Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

The geographical distribution of grey wolves in China (#373)

Ya-Ping Ma 1 2 , Lu Wang 2 , Peter Savolainen 3 , Ya-Ping Zhang 1 2 , Guo-Dong Wang 1
  1. State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China
  2. State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resources in Yunnan, Yunnan University, Kunming, China
  3. Department of Gene Technology, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Science for Life Laboratory, Solna, Sweden

The grey wolf, Canis lupus, is one of the most widely distributed terrestrial mammal. It has generally been reported to be distributed throughout Europe, Asia and North America, from 15°N latitude in North America and 12°N latitude in India to beyond the Arctic Circle, but has been considered to be absent from Africa and the southern part of East Asia. However, recent articles report that the Egyptian jackal (Canis aureus lupaster, Hemprich and Ehrenberg 1833) should be reclassified as the African wolf Canis lupus lupaster. Similarly, there exist misconceptions in the western literature about the distribution of wolf in China. In the present study, we surveyed rich literature in Chinese concerning past and present distribution of wolves to synthesize a comprehensive picture of wolf distribution in China, and to make this significant information available to an international audience. The results show that the wolf is represented in 26/30 provinces across continental China between 1981 and the present. Wolves are still frequently observed all across China, as exemplified by sightings in 2011 reported from the south Chinese province Yunnan, and in 2000 reported from the two southernmost provinces Guangdong and Guangxi. We also made a survey of wolf skins in three major Zoological Museums. We found, e.g., wolf skins obtained as far south as Zhejiang and Fujian in 1974, and southern Yunnan in 1985. Numbers of wolves in China have decreased during the last 50 years, and large populations now remain only in the northwestern and northeastern parts, and in Inner Mongolia and Tibet. However, also in these regions numbers are relatively small with, e.g., 2000 wolves in Inner Mongolia reported in the 1990s. Fortunately, we have here shown that wolves are still present across all parts of the Chinese mainland, including the most southern parts of China.