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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Canis lupus

Author Name

Linnaeus, 1758.


Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1: p39.

Common Name


Type Locality

"Europæ sylvis, etjam frigidioribus", restricted by Thomas (1911a) to "Sweden".


Throughout the N hemisphere: North America south to 20°N in Oaxaca (Mexico); Europe; Asia, including the Arabian Peninsula and Japan, excluding Indochina and S India. Extirpated from most of the continental USA, Europe, and SE China and Indochina (Ginsburg and Macdonald, 1990). Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt (?), Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon (?), Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, USA (see status below), Uzbekistan.


Current as of November 16, 2005, please see corresponding Web site reference for most recent status.


CITES – Appendix I (Indian, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Nepal populations); otherwise Appendix II. U.S. ESA – as C. lupus varies by population: 1) Endangered in Southwestern Distinct Population Segment – Mexico and USA (AZ, NM, CO south of Interstate Highway 70, UT south of U.S. Highway 50, OK and TX, except those parts of OK and TX east of Interstate Highway 35; except where listed as an experimental population); 2) Threatened in Western Distinct Population Segment – USA (CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA, WY, UT north of U.S. Highway 50, and CO north of Interstate Highway 70, except where listed as an experimental population); 3) Threatened in Eastern Distinct Population Segment – USA (CT, IA, IL, IN, KS, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SD, VT, and WI); 4) Experimental populations in portions of USA (WY and portions of ID and MT; portions of AZ, NM, and TX); otherwise, U.S. ESA – Delisted Taxa in USA (Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Car


Reviewed by Mech, 1974. Opinion 2027 of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (March, 2003a) ruled that lupus is not invalid by virtue of being pre-dated by a name based on a domestic form. Includes the domestic dog as a subspecies, with the dingo provisionally separate--artificial variants created by domestication and selective breeding (Vilá et al., 1999; Wayne and Ostrander, 1999; Savolainen et al., 2002). Although this may stretch the subspecies concept, it retains the correct allocation of synonyms. Corbet and Hill (1992) suggested treating the domestic dog as a separate species in SE Asia. Synonyms allocated according to Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1951), Mech (1974), and Hall (1981). Provisionally includes rufus, (recognized by Paradiso, 1968; Paradiso and Nowak, 1972; Atkins and Dillion, 1971; Paradiso and Nowak, 1972; Nowak, 1979, 1992, 2002) although this problematic group (rufus, floridanus, gregoryi) should probably be best listed as incertae sedis. The widely used name C. niger is invalid (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 1957a). The validity of rufus as a full species was questioned by Clutton-Brock et al. (1976), and Lawrence and Bossert (1967, 1975), due to the existence of natural hybrids with lupus and latrans. Natural hybridization may be a consequence of habitat disruption by man (Paradiso and Nowak, 1972, 2002). All specimens examined by Wayne and Jenks (1991) had either a lupus or latrans mtDNA genotype and there appears to be a growing consensus that all historical specimens are a product of hybridization (Nowak, 2002; Reich et al., 1999; Roy et al., 1994, 1996; Wayne et al., 1992, 1998). Hybridization between wolf and coyote has long been recognized (Nowak, 2002). Two recent studies make the strongest case for separation. Wilson et al. (2000) argued for separation of the Eastern Canadian Wolf (as Canis lycaon) and the Red Wolf (as Canis rufus) as separate species based on mtDNA, but see Nowak (2002) who could not find support for this in a morphometric study. Nowak (2002) in an extensive analysis of tooth morphology concluded that there was a distinct population intermediate between traditionally recognized wolves and coyotes, which warranted full species recognition (C. rufus). The red wolf is here considered a hybrid after Wayne and Jenks (1991), Wayne (1992, 1995), and Wayne et al. (1992). Although hybrids are not normally recognized as subspecies, I have chosen as a compromise to retain rufus because of its uncertain status. Also see Roy et al. (1994, 1996), Vilá et al. (1999), and Nowak (2002) who provided an excellent review of the situation.


W. Christopher Wozencraft, 2005.

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