Mapping the expansion of coyotes across North and Central America
(Reprinted from above link)
The geographic distribution of coyotes (Canis latrans) has dramatically expanded since 1900, spreading across much of North America in a period when most other mammal species have been declining.
Although this considerable expansion has been well documented at the state/provincial scale, continentwide descriptions of coyote spread have portrayed conflicting distributions for coyotes prior to the 1900s,
with popularly referenced anecdotal accounts showing them restricted to the great plains, and more obscure, but data-rich accounts suggesting they ranged across the arid west. To provide a scientifically credible map of the coyote’s historical range (10,000–300 BP) and describe their range expansion from 1900
to 2016, we synthesized archaeological and fossil records, museum specimens, peer-reviewed reports, and
records from wildlife management agencies. Museum specimens confirm that coyotes have been present
in the arid west and California throughout the Holocene, well before European colonization. Their range
in the late 1800s was undistinguishable from earlier periods, and matched the distribution of non-forest
habitat in the region. Coyote expansion began around 1900 as they moved north into taiga forests, east
into deciduous forests, west into costal temperate rain forests, and south into tropical rainforests. Forest
fragmentation and the extirpation of larger predators probably enabled these expansions. In addition, hybridization with wolves (C. lupus, C. lycaon, and/or C. rufus) and/or domestic dogs has been documented
in the east, and suspected in the south. Our detailed account of the original range of coyotes and their
subsequent expansion provides the core description of a large scale ecological experiment that can help us
better understand the predator-prey interactions, as well as evolution through hybridization.