In this AG4 project, the genome of a male gray fox, nicknamed Cooper, will be sequenced and assembled by Cantata Bio. This genome assembly will become part of the Revive & Restore Wild Genomes collection for public access. The gray fox is an omnivore that ranges from southern Canada to the northern tip of South America. Although perceived as relatively common, the gray fox has an enigmatic history in North America and many questions remain as to what exactly their “native” range and current population size is. In addition, gray fox taxonomy must improve, particularly as it relates to past and ongoing climate change in the New England region. Uniquely, this canid can climb trees to escape predators, and thus intensive agriculture, deforestation, and urbanization could threaten gray fox survival . As a result, the prairie gray fox (a subspecies of Urocyon cinereoargenteus) was petitioned for listing on the US Endangered Species Act. Because of its widespread distribution and generalist feeding habits, the gray fox may also represent a reservoir for zoonotic diseases of relevance to domestic dog health, such as canine distemper virus.
Watch this video to meet Cooper! (video credit Andrew Ng, Middlebury)