Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. F. Robin O’Keefe, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Habiba Chirchir

Third Advisor

Dr. Herman Mays


Coyotes (Canis latrans) are now found throughout North and Central America, but before European colonization were restricted to west of the Mississippi. Migration occurred in two major paths to the East; north over the Great Lakes (through Canada) and south below the Great Lakes. The location of these routes is significant because those migrating north interbred with the wolves that reside there. These hybrid animals are larger and behaviorally different from their western counterparts. It is possible to differentiate these hybrids morphologically and genetically. Hybrids are known to be located in Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania, but the interest of this study was to determine if their range has spread to include West Virginia. Fourteen measurements were taken by hand using digital calipers on 126 skulls from West Virginia and Ohio and 25 domestic dog skulls. Utilizing PCA, ANOVAs, and multivariate allometry, these data were compared to data collected on coyote populations from western and northeastern North America. Results conclude that while West Virginia coyotes show some similarities to both comparative populations, they are a distinct population with unique morphological variation, and additionally show no similarities to dogs. The distinct morphology of West Virginia coyotes may be due to ecological pressure to adapt that varies from the West and is influenced to lesser degree by admixture with other species than the Northeast.


Coyote -- West Virginia.

Coyote -- Ecology.