The ecological role of coyotes on Yellowstone’s Northern Range

Crabtree, R.L. and Sheldon, J.W.

Yellowstone Science, Vol. 7 Issue 2 pp. 15-23


Adolph Murie’s pioneering work on the ecology of coyotes (Canis latrans) in Yellowstone National Park, published in 1940, was a landmark of predator research in North America. By the late 1980s, biologists had undertaken longterm studies of other ungulate-killing carnivores such as grizzly bears and mountain lions, but not coyotes. In response to the fires of 1988 and in anticipation of gray wolf restoration, we undertook an intensive long-term study of coyotes on the northern range of Yellowstone National Park (YNP). From loose pairs to packs of 10 individuals, the coyote displays many of the behavioral characteristics seen among the 35 species within the family Canidae. Coyotes are an instructive group with which to examine the community structure of carnivores because of their variable social behavior, wide distribution, and ability to thrive in diverse environments.

Patrick Cross1999