Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Meserve, Peter L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


Dusicyon australis; Foxes--Chile--Chiloé Island--Phylogeny; Wolves--Falkland Islands--Phylogeny; Evolution (Biology); Mitochondrial DNA; Pseudalopex griseus fulvipes


The phylogenetic relationship of Darwin's fox {Pseudalopex griseus fulvipes) has been uncertain. Although Darwin's fox is currently considered to be a subspecies of the chilla fox Pseudalopex griseus, some investigators have argued that it should be considered a separate species. The phylogenetic relationship of the extinct Falkland Island wolf (Dusicyon australis) has also been uncertain. Some systematists argue that the Falkland Island wolf is a sister genus to the South American fox genus Pseudalopex, while others suggest that it may have been taken to the islands originally as a domesticated canid by Europeans or native Americans. A European origin would suggest that the Falkland Island wolf is more closely related to the genus Canis, while a native origin would suggest a relationship with the South American foxes. In order to attempt to resolve these questions, mitochondrial DNA sequences (mtDNA) obtained from museum study skins were used to infer phylogenetic relationships of these taxa. Analysis of a 229 base pair region of the cytochrome-b gene in nine taxa resulted in a single most parsimonious tree of 89 steps using the Branch-and-Bound method in PAUP. This phylogenetic hypothesis does not support the specific status of Darwin's fox. Analysis of tegumentary pigments suggests that Darwin's fox is the sister taxon of the Peruvian desert fox (Pseudalopex sechurae). The eight taxa included in the Falkland Island wolf analysis resulted in a single most parsimonious tree of 98 steps. This phylogenetic hypothesis suggests that the Falkland Island wolf is more closely related to the South American foxes than it is to Canis. However, these results cannot resolve the possibility that the Falkland Island wolf was a hybrid between Canis and a South American fox.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [43]-47)


47 pages




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