Coyotes & Wolves: Yellowstone’s Evolutionary Cousins

Coyotes & Wolves: Yellowstone’s Evolutionary Cousins

$1,162.50
Dates:
July 19 - 22
Location:
Lamar Buffalo Ranch
Meals Included?:
No
Instructors:
Joanna Lambert, Ph.D.
Audience Type:
Adult
Program Type:
Field Seminars
Program Subject:
Conservation, Wildlife

In this seminar we will explore the exciting story of Yellowstone’s beloved evolutionary cousins: gray wolves (Canis lupus) and coyotes (Canis latrans). While fossils suggest that these two species diverged over a million years ago, more recent genetic analyses suggest that that this divergence may have been as recent as approximately 50,000 years ago – just a blink in evolutionary time! Yet while many similarities exist between these two species, important ecological and behavioral differences occur too. Gray wolves are distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, and Asia), whereas coyotes are a true American species, found only in North and – now – Central America. Gray wolves will always seek out and spend their lives in social groups, while coyotes can live as solitary individuals. Both species were targeted throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in US predator control campaigns, but though gray wolf numbers plummeted, teetering on the edge of extinction in the US by the 1960s, the distribution of coyotes has continuously expanded over the past 50+ years. What accounts for these differences? Just how similar are they? In the field, lecture, and film we will explore the evolutionary history of coyotes and wolves, observe and discuss their similarities and differences, and gain a rich appreciation of the behavior and ecology of these two iconic Yellowstone canids.

About the instructor

Joanna Lambert, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She has a deep passion for the natural world, resulting in a career spent publishing and teaching about the behavior, ecology, and conservation biology of wild mammals, especially primates and carnivores. Her research has taken her to every continent on the planet, though she has spent the most time (30 years) in equatorial Africa and especially enjoys doing research and teaching in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

We are continually updating and refining our COVID-19 mitigation measures to ensure the health and safety our guests, staff and volunteers. Read our COVID-19 guidelines for program participants.

SUMMER ACTIVITY LEVEL SCALE

  • Be prepared to hike up to 1 mile per day, comfortably, through relatively flat terrain on maintained trails.
  • Be prepared to hike up to 3 miles per day, comfortably, with elevation gains up to 600 feet. Some off-trail hiking possible.
  • Be prepared to hike up to 5 miles per day, comfortably, with occasional elevation gains up to 1000 feet in undulating terrain.
  • Be prepared to hike up to 8 miles per day, at a brisk pace, comfortably, with climbs up to 1500 feet on dirt trails. Loose rocks, uneven footing, and off-trail hiking are possible. Good coordination is recommended.
  • Be prepared for brisk aerobic, destination-oriented hiking up to 12 miles a day. You should be physically conditioned to do these hikes comfortably. Elevation changes up to 2000 feet on dirt trails or off-trail. Loose rock, uneven footing, steep hillside traverses, and stream crossings are possible. Good coordination is required.

WINTER ACTIVITY LEVEL SCALE

  • Leisurely hikes up to 1 mile per day through relatively flat terrain on maintained or snow-packed trails.
  • Hikes on snow-packed trails, or snowshoe or ski trips, up to 3 miles per day with climbs up to 250 feet.
  • Brisk hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing up to 5 miles per day with climbs up to 500 feet, including some trail-breaking in snow.
  • Brisk aerobic snowshoeing or skiing up to 8 miles per day with climbs up to 1000 feet; or steep, rugged, off-trail skiing or snowshoeing—including breaking trail in variable snow conditions.
  • Brisk aerobic snowshoeing or skiing up to 12 miles per day with climbs up to 1500 feet; or steep, rugged, off-trail skiing or snowshoeing—including breaking trail in variable snow conditions.