Persistence and expansion of cryptic endangered red wolf genomic ancestry along the American Gulf coast.
Admixture and introgression play a critical role in adaptation and genetic rescue that has only recently gained a deeper appreciation. Here, we explored the geographical and genomic landscape of cryptic ancestry of the endangered red wolf that persists within the genome of a ubiquitous sister taxon, the coyote, all while the red wolf has been extinct in the wild since the early 1980s. We assessed admixture across 120,621 single nucleotiode polymorphism (SNP) loci genotyped in 293 canid genomes. We found support for increased red wolf ancestry along a west-to-east gradient across the southern United States associated with historical admixture in the past 100 years. Southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas, the geographical zone where the last red wolves were known prior to extinction in the wild, contained the highest and oldest levels of red wolf ancestry. Further, given the paucity of inferences based on chromosome types, we compared patterns of ancestry on the X chromosome and autosomes. We additionally aimed to explore the relationship between admixture timing and recombination rate variation to investigate gene flow events. We found that X-linked regions of low recombination rates were depleted of introgression, relative to the autosomes, consistent with the large X effect and enrichment with loci involved in maintaining reproductive isolation. Recombination rate was positively correlated with red wolf ancestry across coyote genomes, consistent with theoretical predictions. The geographical and genomic extent of cryptic red wolf ancestry can provide novel genomic resources for recovery plans targeting the conservation of the endangered red wolf.