The American mink in Europe: status, impacts, and control

Biological Conservation (Impact Factor: 4.04). 11/2007; 134:470-483. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.09.006

ABSTRACT We examine the distribution of American mink Mustela vison in 28 European countries, and we review the impacts of this invasive species and the efforts made so far in controlling it. Our study reveals that, although mink farms are mostly concentrated in northern countries, mink are widely distributed across Europe, and that in some countries mink are apparently declining, although in most cases the causes are unknown. Countries for which the impact of mink on native species has been studied show that mink can have a significant effect on ground-nesting birds, rodents, amphibians and mustelids. The overall economic impact of feral mink seems to be relatively small but can be significant in specific regions. Recently, a number of eradication and local control projects have been carried out throughout Europe, indicating that these actions could be effective to protect native species. A consistent body of knowledge is starting to accumulate on issues concerning the American mink as an invasive alien species, but, as this review highlights, for most European countries there is currently a limited knowledge about its distribution or impacts. Taking all these observations together, we present some of the actions that have recently emerged as effective for dealing with this species and discuss which considerations may further encourage competent European authorities to take action to prevent and mitigate impacts of American mink.

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Available from: Santiago Palazón, Jul 14, 2015
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    • "It is now naturalized in more than 30 European countries, as well as in some others from Asia to South America (Bonesi and Palazón, 2007). Its degree of abundance and density greatly varies among countries, as do the resulting impacts (Bonesi and Palazón, 2007). The European polecat is distributed throughout Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to Russia, and Bulgaria to southern Norway and Finland. "
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    ABSTRACT: Biological invasions represent a threat to worldwide diversity, but large scale patterns of their impacts are rarely reported. The population sex-ratio influences many other population parameters such as the effective population size, the mating system or the population persistence in the long run. At a local scale, the presence of American mink (Neovison vison), a successful invader, has been shown to distort the adult sex-ratio (ASR) in the native European polecat (Mustela putorius). The aim of the current work is to determine whether this process is generalized across the entire native species range, by studying 71 datasets and 10 847 polecats with a meta-analytic approach. Datasets were male-biased when these included adult individuals. The different sampling methods (trapping/hunting, live trapping or road-kills) did not affect the sample sex-ratio (SSR). The polecat ASR is more skewed toward males in the presence of American mink, representing a conservation concern due to the reduction of reproductive females. The potential repercussions of ASR distortion on the effective population size, the mating system or the population persistence are discussed. This is the first time that ASR distortion across the entire range of a native species is linked to competition with an invasive species.
    Biological Conservation 03/2015; 186:28-34. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.02.030 · 4.04 Impact Factor
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    • "Mink are small (c. 1 kg) carnivores imported to Europe, Asia and South America from North America for fur farming (Dunstone, 1993). Escaped and intentionally released mink have established feral populations in many countries (Bonesi & Palazon, 2007) and have had devastating impacts on several species of native birds (Craik, 1997; Nordstr€ om et al., 2003; Peris et al., 2009) and mammals (Aars et al., 2001; Jefferies, 2003; Macdonald & Harrington, 2003; Banks et al., 2008). Mink are highly mobile (Gerell, 1970) and inhabit coastal and freshwater habitats. "
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    ABSTRACT: AimThe impact of invasive species is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss world-wide, and as a result, there is much interest in understanding the pattern and rate of expansion of species outside their native range. We aimed to characterize the range expansion of the American mink (Neovison vison) invading from multiple introduction points through a varied landscape bounded by coastline to better understand and manage its spread.LocationScotland, UK.Method We collated and used records of mink presence to calculate the historical range and rate of range expansion at successive time intervals. We used a presence-only model to predict habitat suitability and a newly developed individual-based modelling platform, RangeShifter, to simulate range expansion.ResultsRecords showed that mink were distributed throughout Scotland, except in the far north. We found that the rate of spread varied both spatially and temporally and was related to landscape heterogeneity. Habitat suitable for mink in west Scotland is restricted to the coast.Main conclusionsWe concluded that temporal and spatial variation in range expansion is attributable to heterogeneity within the landscape and also demonstrated that the potential for long-distance dispersal does not necessarily facilitate range expansion when availability of suitable habitat occurs in narrow strips and/or is fragmented. We have highlighted methodological gaps in calculating rates of expansion in invasive species but have demonstrated alternative methods that successfully utilize presence-only data. Our study reaffirms that invasive species will colonize less favourable habitats and highlights the need to remain vigilant of their potential for expansion even when distribution appears to be static for a time.
    Diversity and Distributions 01/2015; DOI:10.1111/ddi.12303 · 5.47 Impact Factor
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    • "Such a scenario of positive population trend directly applies to the actual case of several rare and elusive species in Europe and North America, such as wolves (Musiani et al. 2009), brown bears (Swenson et al. 2011), lynx (Linnell et al. 2009), and cougars (LaRue et al. 2012), which are recovering their numbers and historic distributions after being almost eradicated from their historical ranges. Also, invasive species, such as the American mink Mustela vison (Bonesi and Palazon 2007) and the gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis (Bertolino and Genovesi 2003) in Europe, "
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    ABSTRACT: Theory recognizes that a treatment of the detection process is required to avoid producing biased estimates of population rate of change. Still, one of three monitoring programmes on animal or plant populations is focused on simply counting individuals or other fixed visible structures, such as natal dens, nests, tree cavities. This type of monitoring design poses concerns about the possibility to respect the assumption of constant detection, as the information acquired in a given year about the spatial distribution of reproductive sites can provide a higher chance to detect the species in subsequent years. We developed an individual-based simulation model, which evaluates how the accumulation of knowledge about the spatial distribution of a population process can affect the accuracy of population growth rate estimates, when using simple count-based indices. Then, we assessed the relative importance of each parameter in affecting monitoring performance. We also present the case of wolverines (Gulo gulo) in southern Scandinavia as an example of a monitoring system with an intrinsic tendency to accumulate knowledge and increase detectability. When the occupation of a nest or den is temporally autocorrelated, the monitoring system is prone to increase its knowledge with time. This happens also when there is no intensification in monitoring effort and no change in the monitoring conditions. Such accumulated knowledge is likely to increase detection probability with time and can produce severe bias in the estimation of the rate and direction of population change over time. We recommend that a systematic sampling of the population process under study and an explicit treatment of the underlying detection process should be implemented whenever economic and logistical constraints permit, as failure to include detection probability in the estimation of population growth rate can lead to serious bias and severe consequences for management and conservation.
    Ecology and Evolution 12/2014; 4(24). DOI:10.1002/ece3.1258 · 1.66 Impact Factor
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