Article

Food niche variation of European and American mink during the American mink invasion in north-eastern Belarus

Authors:
  • Naust Eco station
  • Mammmal Research Institute PAS
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Abstract

Understanding processes allowing the co-existence of ecologically similar species is important but difficult to study in community ecology. Introductions of alien species are unplanned experiments allowing investigation of co-adaptation of both native and invasive species over a short period. We analysed food niche differentiation between native European mink and alien American mink after invasion of the latter species in Belarus. European mink feed mainly on crayfish, frogs and fish whereas American mink prefer small mammals, fish and frogs. The diet of both species varied between seasons and during the period of alien mink invasion. Concurrent with the progress of American mink invasion, the European mink food niche has narrowed to feeding mainly on frogs, with the proportion of aquatic prey (fish and crayfish) in their diet drastically reduced. In contrast, the American mink food niche became wider during invasion. The breadth was stable but included a varied proportion of different prey categories: namely an increased proportion of aquatic prey and a decreased proportion of water vole and waterfowl. The increase in abundance of American mink saw a decrease in the proportion of larger prey in their diet. When American mink preyed more often on frogs, food niche overlap of both predators increased. This result suggests that arrival of an alien competitor reduced food abundance (exploitative competition) and caused a change in native mink diet. Keywords Mustela lutreola-Neovison vison-Feeding ecology-Species displacement-Invasive predator-Species co-existence

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... muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus). Dietary composition varies greatly between seasons and localities (Jędrzejewska et al., 2001;Bartoszewicz & Zalewski, 2003) and has also changed over the period of mink invasion (Sidorovich, Polozov & Zalewski, 2010). In Belarus during the first years of invasion, American mink were observed to eat many water voles and waterfowl, whereas 10 years after their introduction they more commonly consumed aquatic prey, such as frogs and fish (Sidorovich et al., 2010). ...
... Dietary composition varies greatly between seasons and localities (Jędrzejewska et al., 2001;Bartoszewicz & Zalewski, 2003) and has also changed over the period of mink invasion (Sidorovich, Polozov & Zalewski, 2010). In Belarus during the first years of invasion, American mink were observed to eat many water voles and waterfowl, whereas 10 years after their introduction they more commonly consumed aquatic prey, such as frogs and fish (Sidorovich et al., 2010). ...
... *Approximate number of years since introduction. (Sidorovich et al., 2010), their body size should also converge with the smaller European mink in the same environmental conditions. The last two explanations suggest mechanisms that involve food resource abundance as a factor affecting body size variation. ...
Article
Introduced species must adapt their ecology, behaviour, and morphological traits to new conditions. The successful introduction and invasive potential of a species are related to its levels of phenotypic plasticity and genetic polymorphism. We analysed changes in the body mass and length of American mink (Neovison vison) since its introduction into the Warta Mouth National Park, western Poland, in relation to diet composition and colonization progress from 1996 to 2004. Mink body mass decreased significantly during the period of population establishment within the study area, with an average decrease of 13% from 1.36 to 1.18 kg in males and of 16% from 0.83 to 0.70 kg in females. Diet composition varied seasonally and between consecutive years. The main prey items were mammals and fish in the cold season and birds and fish in the warm season. During the study period the proportion of mammals preyed upon increased in the cold season and decreased in the warm season. The proportion of birds preyed upon decreased over the study period, whereas the proportion of fish increased. Following introduction, the strictly aquatic portion of mink diet (fish and frogs) increased over time, whereas the proportion of large prey (large birds, muskrats, and water voles) decreased. The average yearly proportion of large prey and average-sized prey in the mink diet was significantly correlated with the mean body masses of males and females. Biogeographical variation in the body mass and length of mink was best explained by the percentage of large prey in the mink diet in both sexes, and by latitude for females. Together these results demonstrate that American mink rapidly changed their body mass in relation to local conditions. This phenotypic variability may be underpinned by phenotypic plasticity and/or by adaptation of quantitative genetic variation. The potential to rapidly change phenotypic variation in this manner is an important factor determining the negative ecological impacts of invasive species. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 681–693.
... G Model MAMBIO-41022;No. of Pages 7 decrease in the contribution of water voles to the mink diet was observed (Sidorovich et al., 2010). In Belarus, water voles were hunted by invasive mink in both the warm and cold seasons, but they comprised a relatively small fraction of the total prey biomass consumed (<10%), even at the beginning of mink colonisation, when their abundance in the study area was higher than in the following years (Sidorovich et al., 2010). ...
... G Model MAMBIO-41022;No. of Pages 7 decrease in the contribution of water voles to the mink diet was observed (Sidorovich et al., 2010). In Belarus, water voles were hunted by invasive mink in both the warm and cold seasons, but they comprised a relatively small fraction of the total prey biomass consumed (<10%), even at the beginning of mink colonisation, when their abundance in the study area was higher than in the following years (Sidorovich et al., 2010). In Poland, water voles have also been found to occur in the mink diet (Jędrzejewska et al., 2001;Bartoszewicz and Zalewski, 2003;Brzeziński, 2008;Krawczyk et al., 2013), but their proportion was found to be low. ...
... The results of this study do not explain how mink predation affects water vole densities and dynamics, but they imply that in this area invaded and colonised by mink, water voles are still abundant. Moreover, the high contribution of water voles to the mink diet confirms that the water vole density is relatively high, as this rodent is less frequently consumed by mink if its availability in a certain area is low (Macdonald et al., 2002;Sidorovich et al., 2010). In the study area, the relationship between water vole densities and predation rates of mink is hard to estimate due to the short study period. ...
Article
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The American mink Neovison vison is an invasive carnivore which may significantly affect populations of the water vole Arvicola amphibius. However, its impact on this rodent species depends on the abundance, dispersion and configuration of the habitats suitable for water voles and their accessibility for the mink. Using live-trapping, we studied the water vole and American mink populations inhabiting midfield ponds located in the vicinity of a large lake. In the same area, the mink diet was described after collecting and analysing scats. During four spring seasons, the water vole density gradually increased and no population peaks or crashes were observed. The maximum recorded density was 9.0 individuals/1 km of pond shoreline. Water voles displayed high year-to-year population turnover: less than 5% of the marked individuals were recaptured in the following year. In April–July, the exchange of individuals in the population during one-month periods was also high and usually exceeded 50%. Water vole remains were found in mink scats in all seasons, and the highest overall percentage biomass of water vole in mink diet for a two-months period reached 52.2% in May–June 2012. The results of our study show that at small water bodies adjacent to a large lake, the water vole population may withstand the impact of the invasive American mink.
... However, due to the varying outcomes and limitations of the techniques employed in diet studies (field observation, scat analyses, stomach contents, DNA metabarcoding; e.g. 3-5 ) and potential seasonal, regional or individual variation, a large number of these studies are required to accurately assess an animal's diet [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] . Alternatively, ecomorphology studies use an animal's anatomy to infer its ecology (e.g. ...
... Both minks are semiaquatic species adapted to riverine habitats, where they hunt both terrestrial vertebrates and aquatic prey 32 . However, the extent of dietary overlap or prey competition between both mink species is unclear due to the wide regional and seasonal variation of main prey in American mink 10,15,33 . This convergent OPEN ...
... However, studies on European mink diet are scarcer 9,14 , particularly those comparing the sexes 13 . Additionally, a few studies have compared diets of sympatric European and American mink 10,15 . All these studies can be summarized as: A, male American mink favor medium-sized mammals and birds usually heavier than themselves; B, female American mink favor aquatic prey, but are displaced towards small mammals and birds when seasonal changes in prey availability shift the males' diet towards aquatic prey; C, European mink favor aquatic prey, particularly fish and crayfish; but D, they are displaced towards amphibians and small mammals when www.nature.com/scientificreports/ ...
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European and American minks are very similar in ecology, behavior and morphology. Both species hunt terrestrial vertebrates and aquatic prey, but the American mink is a more generalist predator which, among other factors, allows it to outcompete the European mink in areas where it has been introduced. We used 3D geometric morphometrics and estimates of muscle mechanical advantage to assess the degree of variation in mandibular morphology, and to determine whether such variation reflects dietary differences between the two species. The three main axes of variation represented interspecific differences, a common allometric trajectory between species and sexes, and the interspecific effect of sexual size dimorphism, with males having overall stronger bites than females. Differences in mandible shape and biomechanical parameters suggest that American minks are better equipped for preying on terrestrial vertebrates, while the features seen in European mink could be related to tougher prey, fish capture, or both. Additionally, within each species, the larger specimens of each sex present indicators of a higher percentage of terrestrial prey in their diet. These results indicate a low potential dietary overlap between both species, suggesting that factors other than prey competition may have a role in the decline of the European mink.
... For instance, American mink are larger, both in length and weight (Sidorovich et al., 1999;Wilson & Mittermeier, 2009), and thus can overcome the native species in physical confrontation. Furthermore, although the American mink has been described as a strictly carnivorous, generalist, and opportunistic predator, there is potential dietary overlap or prey competition between the two species (García Bustos, 2018;Sidorovich et al., 2010). ...
... In both mink species, aquatic prey usually represent the largest percentage of their diet. However, this percentage is bigger in the European mink than in the American mink, since the latter tends to rely more on rodents and waterfowl (e.g., Sidorovich et al., 2010). The fact that the distance between American mink and European polecat in the morphospace of this study is shorter than the distance between the European mink and the European polecat supports this hypothesis, as it suggests a dietary gradient among the three species ( Figure 3A). ...
... However, when two predators which target a similar range of prey coexist, one of them (usually the smaller and/or less aggressive) is generally displaced by the other towards less energetic or abundant prey (Dayan & Simberloff, 1996;Ewer, 1973). This has been studied both within and between both mink species (Birks & Dunstone, 1985;Palazón et al., 2004;Sidorovich et al., 2010), and complemented with studies on social interaction also within and between species Sidorovich et al., 1999). As, the smaller sex of the smaller species, female European mink could be being displaced to an increasingly narrower, poorer diet when both species coexist. ...
Article
Full-text available
European and American minks (Mustela lutreola and Neovison vison, respectively) are very similar in their ecology, behavior, and morphology. However, the American mink is a generalist predator and seems to adapt better to anthropized environments, allowing it to outcompete the European mink in areas where it has been introduced, threatening the survival of the native species. To assess whether morphological differences may be contributing to the success of the American mink relative to the European mink, we analyzed shape variation in the cranium of both species using 3D geometric morphometrics. A set of 38 landmarks and 107 semilandmarks was used to study shape variation between and within species, and to assess how differences in size factored into that variation. Sexual dimorphism in both size and shape was also studied. Significant differences between species were found in cranial shape, but not in size. Relative to American mink, European mink have a shorter facial region with a rounder forehead and wider orbits, a longer neurocranium with less developed crests and processes, and an antero‐medially placed tympanic bullae with an anteriorly expanded cranial border. Within species, size‐related sexual dimorphism is highly significant, but sexual dimorphism in shape is only significant in American mink, not in European mink. Additionally, two trends common to both species were discovered, one related to allometric changes and another to sexual size dimorphism. Shape changes related to increasing size can be subdivided into two, probably related, groups: increased muscle force and growth. The first group somewhat parallels the differences between both mink species, while the second group of traits includes an anterodorsal expansion of the face, and the neurocranium shifting from a globous shape in small individuals to a dorsoventrally flattened ellipse in the largest ones. Finally, the sexual dimorphism trend, while also accounting for differences in muscle force, seems to be related to the observed dietary differences between males and females. Overall, differences between species and sexes, and shape changes with increasing size, seem to mainly relate to differences in masticatory‐muscle volume and therefore muscle force and bite force, which, in turn, relate to a wider range of potential prey (bigger prey, tougher shells). Thus, muscle force (and dietary range) would be larger in American mink than in European mink, in males than in females, and in larger individuals than in smaller ones. Cranial shape and size variation in European (Mlu) and American minks (Nvi) were studied. Both species differed in shape but not size, while sexes within each differed in size but in shape only for Nvi. Allometric shape changes were related to growth and sexual dimorphism. Overall, differences among species, sexes, and sizes related to masticatory‐muscle volume, which suggests that muscle force (and dietary range) would be larger in Nvi than in Mlu, in males than in females, and in larger mink.
... different size or sex). Invasive species are usually characterized by high niche breadth (Jeschke & Strayer, 2006), and in invaded habitats, their diet may change over time in response to prey availability (Sidorovich, Polozov, & Zalewski, 2010). Prey exploitation by invasive predators and, as a consequence, changes in their diet may increase competition with native predators (Sidorovich et al., 2010), but some mechanisms of niche partitioning may also arise. ...
... Invasive species are usually characterized by high niche breadth (Jeschke & Strayer, 2006), and in invaded habitats, their diet may change over time in response to prey availability (Sidorovich, Polozov, & Zalewski, 2010). Prey exploitation by invasive predators and, as a consequence, changes in their diet may increase competition with native predators (Sidorovich et al., 2010), but some mechanisms of niche partitioning may also arise. ...
... Numerous studies have compared the trophic niches of native and non-native carnivores after the establishment of invasive species populations (e.g. Santos, Pinto, & Santos-Reis, 2007;Melero et al., 2008;Sidorovich et al., 2010). All these studies showed that non-native carnivores exploited local food resources alongside native species, and that their trophic niches overlapped to varying degrees. ...
Article
Introductions of invasive species increase competitive interactions in a community proportionally to the similarity between the ecological niches of invasive and native species. Food represents one of the most important resources influencing competition, and differences in the trophic niche of native and invasive species can affect their ability to coexist. Moreover, in sympatric native and invasive species of similar body size and high sexual dimorphism, competition for food between individuals of the same sex may be higher than intraspecific competition between males and females, thus making the overall competitive interactions more complex. The aim of this study was to investigate the intraspecific and intrasexual competition for food resources between two sexually dimorphic mustelids, the native polecat Mustela putorius and invasive American mink Neovison vison, in riparian habitats of Białowieża Forest (Poland). Based on an analysis of 1215 scats, we studied the food habits of eight polecat and 24 mink individuals. The trophic niches of the polecat and mink were narrow and overlapped considerably. The diet of both predators was dominated by amphibians (mainly the common frog Rana temporaria), which comprised up to 94.1% and 89.7% of polecat and mink prey biomass, respectively. Individual diet variation was low within each sex group of both species. Interspecific similarities in body mass of the sexes and intraspecific differences in body mass between the sexes did not affect pairwise niche overlaps. However, we observed some mechanisms of food segregation between the sexes and species that reduced intra‐ and interspecies competition. Polecat males hunted more common toads Bufo bufo than polecat females, mink males and mink females. They also hunted larger frogs than polecat females, and the opposite pattern was recorded in mink. We conclude that two predator species exploiting abundant prey can coexist despite a very high overlap in their food niches. Results of the study conducted in Białowieża Forest (Poland) showed that two sympatric mustelids of similar body size and high sexual dimorphism, the native polecat Mustela putorius and invasive American mink Neovison vison, can co‐occur despite having a very high food niche overlap and specializing in a very abundant group of prey. The diet of both predators was dominated by amphibians (mainly the common frog Rana temporaria), which comprised up to 94.1% and 89.7% of polecat and mink prey biomass, respectively. Individual diet variation was low, and interspecific similarities in body mass of the sexes and intraspecific differences in body mass between the sexes did not affect pairwise niche overlaps. However, we observed some mechanisms of food segregation that reduce potential intra‐ and interspecies competition (selection of different sized frogs and different consumption of common toads Bufo bufo).
... Our results revealed a high trophic niche overlap in sympatric populations of the native and invasive mink, and a high individual variability in the diet of both species in allopatric and sympatric populations. Nevertheless, and unlike previous studies based on faecal analysis [16,17], no significant change in diet of the native species in response to the arrival of the introduced species was registered. A high trophic niche overlap between the species, as well as no displacement of the native mink in response to the arrival of the invasive mink, could indicate significant trophic competition between both mink species. ...
... These differences were attributed to differences in habitat selection [16]. Similarly, a habitat shift in combination with reduced prey abundance has been proposed as a mechanism for the diet change of EM in response to invasion by AM [17]. Introduced non-native predators may cause a significant decrease in the abundance of native prey in their new habitat [46,47], which may increase the competitive interactions between the invasive and native predators [17]. ...
... Similarly, a habitat shift in combination with reduced prey abundance has been proposed as a mechanism for the diet change of EM in response to invasion by AM [17]. Introduced non-native predators may cause a significant decrease in the abundance of native prey in their new habitat [46,47], which may increase the competitive interactions between the invasive and native predators [17]. As a result, a decline in the trophic position of the native predator may occur [9,46]. ...
Article
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The pressure elicited by invasive species on native species significantly increases with the increase of the overlap of their ecological niches. Still, the specific mechanisms of the trophic displacement of native species during the invasion process are unclear. The effects of the invasive American mink (Neovison vison) on the critically endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola) was assessed by analyses of diet and niche overlap during the invasion process. To do this, the isotopic composition (δ13C and δ15N) of both species of mink and their four main types of prey was analysed. Significant trophic overlap between the native European mink and invasive American mink was found when they coexisted in sympatry. Furthermore, both mink species were characterised by significant individual variation in diet and no obvious change in diet of the native species in response to the arrival of the introduced species was observed. High niche overlap registered between both species in sympatry with no displacement in diet of the native mink in response to the arrival of the invasive mink is expected to have important consequences for the viability and conservation of the native mink populations, as it suggests high competitive pressure.
... American mink expansion in Poland is a part of a continent-wide process of its invasion in Europe, however, in Central and Eastern European countries the dynamics of mink expansion is not described sufficiently. To the north-east and east of Poland, wild living mink population is widespread in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Belarus (Mickevicius and Baranauskas 1992;Ozoliņ š and Pilāts 1995;Sidorovich 1997;Bonesi and Palazon 2007). These populations were established until the 1970s. ...
... Indeed, a short time after colonisation of a new area the abundance of some prey (e.g. water birds and water vole) and its proportion in the mink diet decreased (Macdonald et al. 2002;Sidorovich et al. 2010;Brzeziński et al. 2012;Zalewski and Bartoszewicz 2012). At the beginning of expansion in Poland, mink may have benefited from the abundance of the introduced muskrat Ondatra zibethicus, which is an important prey of mink in its native range (Errington 1943). ...
Article
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The American mink, an invasive mammal introduced to Europe, severely impacts native biodiversity. The history of its invasion has been poorly investigated in central and eastern Europe, and the current variations in densities of mink populations are not well studied, thus making a reduction of its impact difficult. Here we analyse the temporal dynamics and spatial distribution of the American mink population in Poland, which began to establish itself at the beginning of the 1980s and originated from Polish farm escapees and immigrants from Lithuania and Belarus. Mink dispersal started in the north and continued to the south and in 2016 mink occurrence was recorded across ca. 75% of the country. By about 1997 mink had colonised half of Poland, and in 2016 the only mink-free area was in the south and south-east of the country. The rate of expansion showed accelerating and decelerating patterns, and reached its maximum 12 years after the beginning of the expansion. Mink farming in western Poland developed rapidly after 2000 and probably influenced acceleration of mink range expansion rates in years 2006–2008. Indices of mink densities showed significant nonlinear change over time since local populations were established and were highest in populations estimated to be 10–15 years old. The prediction of non-native species invasion rates and population dynamics should be incorporated into management actions curbing their negative impact on native fauna.
... Under conditions leading to coexistence, competition with a dominant species may limit the distribution and density of a subordinate carnivore (Hardin 1960;Schoener 1983;Glen and Dickman 2008;Sidorovich et al. 2010), which can make the population less resilient to changes in habitat or resource availability. Thus, the ability to minimize competition through resource partitioning may be critical for the long-term persistence of specialist carnivore populations facing novel competitive pressures. ...
... Dietary overlap between the two species also remained high (91% annually). Interestingly, our results suggested that the frequency at which a prey class was (Sidorovich et al. 2010). Coyotes likely colonized the Great Basin by the early 1900s, and coyote control programs had been implemented by the 1950s (Egoscue 1956). ...
Article
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Range expansions by generalists can alter communities and introduce competitive pressures on native species. In the Great Basin Desert, USA, coyotes (Canis latrans Say, 1823) have colonized and are now sympatric with native kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis Merriam, 1888). Since both species have similar diets, dietary partitioningmayfacilitatecoexistence.We analyzed coyote and kit fox diets, then compared our results to an earlier study. Because populations are dynamic, we expected that decreases in prey or increases in predator abundance could alter dietary patterns. We found no significant changes in population-level prey diversity for kit foxes or coyotes, but found high levels of dietary overlap between species. We did detect a significant decrease in the relative importance of leporids (family Leporidae) in the diets of both canids, but they remained important for coyotes. The relative importance of small mammals was greater for kit foxes than coyotes, but their importance had not changed significantly over time. We detected significant declines in prey diversity per sample (scat-level dietary diversity) for both canids, suggesting that during a foraging event, individuals may encounter less diverse prey now than historically. These findings suggested that kit foxes and coyotes were not limited by prey, despite high dietary overlap.
... The divergence in diets seems to have led to otter displacing mink's diet, which enables both predator species to coexist. The shift in predators' diet composition in the presence of mink has also been observed in the coupling of American and European mink (Sidorovich et al. 2010). Diet shift is not the only factor that plays a role in the persistence and coexistence of sympatric species. ...
... Diet shift is not the only factor that plays a role in the persistence and coexistence of sympatric species. Spatial divergence is also a potential strategy for coexistence of ecologically similar species (Sidorovich et al. 2010), with their consequent effect on native species population structure and abundance. Altough mink overlap the otter's home range, the persistence of otter and mink is possible because of mink's diet displacement. ...
Article
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Loss of biodiversity due to biological invasions is one of the most critical issues our society is facing. American mink is one of the most nefarious invasive non-native species and has major consequences for diversity, ecosystems and economics. A project to evaluate the impact of American mink has been carried out in Catalonia since 2000 under the aegis of regional and national government and a European LIFE pro-gramme. In this study, we tested whether temporal variations in the relative abundance of native species were related to American mink. In addition, we compared the abundance of natives before and after mink arrival. Among the competitors spotted genet and European polecat, mink abundance and arrival had a significant negative effect on their populations. However, among black rat and fish prey only three native fish species had a negative temporal relation with the abundance of mink and three fish species showed a significant difference in their abundance before and after mink arrival. The effect of mink was significant among species with a higher niche overlap (polecat and genet versus mink). The persistence and coexistence of the alien and native species seems to depend on hetero-geneity, in terms of the based on niche segregation among these species.
... space or food), as reported for the invasion biology of different taxa, such as spiders (Houser et al. 2014), fish (Bøhn and Amundsen 2001) and mesocarnivores (Harrington et al. 2009). If there is no (sufficient) niche differentiation and resources are limited, interspecific competition occurs and effects on the individual, such as reduced survival and/or reproductive success, will be reflected at the population level (distribution, population density, persistence) (Shuttleworth et al. 2015), possibly driving one of the two competing species to extinction (Ricciardi et al. 1998;Mooney and Cleland 2001). ...
... Competition for food is often reported in invasion biology especially between similar native and alien species (e.g. Bøhn and Amundsen 2001;Ruiz-Miranda et al. 2006;Sidorovich et al. 2010). Body condition is known to affect survival of animals: fat reserves allow individuals to survive during periods of lack of food or to cope better with cold temperatures (Gosler 1996;Monteith et al. 2013). ...
Article
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Alien species can affect native species through several ecological processes such as competition. Here we tested the hypothesis of interspecific competition for space and food resources between the native Eurasian red squirrel and the invasive Pallas’s squirrel introduced in Italy. We used an experimental study design comparing space and habitat use and body condition parameters of red squirrels between areas of co-occurrence with the Pallas’s squirrel and areas without it. There were no differences in mean home range size of red squirrels between red-only areas and red-Pallas. However, when Pallas’s squirrels were removed, the red squirrels increased their home ranges. Moreover, in the area of syntopy, red squirrels had a higher degree of intraspecific home range overlap than in the red-only area. We also found indirect evidence for competition for food with red squirrels having a poorer body condition when co-occurring with the alien species. We analyzed the body mass and size of red squirrels in the two areas and our results showed that red squirrels had a reduced body mass and size when in syntopy, confirming that the interspecific competition does not allow red squirrels to reach the optimum body condition that they would have if the competitor was not present. Moreover, tree-species niche overlap was very high and both species fed primarily on the same tree seeds. Differences in vegetation cover between areas are discussed. This is the first study that confirms the invasiveness of the Pallas’s squirrel also in terms of capability to compete with native species.
... The European mink, Mustela lutreola, and American mink, Neovison vison, are two mammal predators which inhabit the riparian zone. Both species are similar in size and they occupy a similar ecological niche (Macdonald et al. 2002; Sidorovich et al. 2010). Following the introduction of the American mink to Europe both species occurred in sympatry and the American mink negatively affected the population of European mink, thus reducing their abundance (Macdonald et al. 2002). ...
... Obviously American mink displaced European mink and occupied the same habitat. European mink populations collapsed, probably due to intraguild competition between the two species (see Maran et al. 1998; Sidorovich et al. 2010). On the other hand our models show that, besides the competition, the presence of barriers on the rivers and tributaries also has an effect on European and American mink occurrence within the study area. ...
Article
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The genetic diversity of feral and ranch American mink was studied in order to detect gene flux among rivers, investigate the processes of invasion, and determine the possible effects of river barriers. Tissue samples of 78 feral American mink from 5 different river catchments and 18 ranch mink, collected between 2007 and 2011 in Biscay, northern Spain, were genotyped at 21 microsatellite loci. Lack of genetic differentiation of feral mink among the sites and high differentiation between feral and ranch mink was suggested. These results confirm that the mink population established on Butro´n River at the beginning of the 1990s may be the origin of almost all the feral mink population within the study area. Additionally, the occurrence of American and European mink was used to analyse the effect of fragmentation on the population viability. The size and composition of the home range of male European mink was considered to model minimum viable units for presence/absence. Forty-two minimum viable units were randomly distributed among rivers in order to analyse the effect of fragmentation on mink occurrence. Barriers were mapped and classified as slight, moderate or absolute, depending on the effect on mink movement, and were introduced into the models. The presence of European and American mink depended on the non-fragmented main river stretches and the number of tributaries free from barriers. Results showed that fragmented rivers can be temporarily occupied but the likelihood of death means that these areas are only sink patches for mink.
... Рыба также является основой рациона; норка продолжает отлавливать в основном карася. По мнению В. Е. Сидоровича [36] и А. Г. Полозова [37], в летний период для американской норки наиболее значимы рыба (χ 2 = 24.5; df = 5; p < 0.01) и земноводные (χ 2 = 34.5; ...
... Низкий уровень воды в холодные сезоны, а также локальная агрегация рыбы способствуют активной охоте норки в различных водоемах. Подобные показатели характерны также для территории Северо-Запада России [40] и Республики Беларусь [37]. Зимой норка продолжает отлавливать мышевидных грызунов и птиц. ...
... Особенности индивидуальных участков американской норки достаточно хорошо из-учены как в отечественной [5][6][7] так и в зарубежной литературе [8][9][10][11][12][13]. В. Г. Гептнер и др. ...
... Кроме того, отмечено, что в холодные и неблагоприятные сезоны участки могут закономерно увеличиваться, а также наблюдаются случаи перемещения особей по водоемам и использование ресурсов, удаленных от них [6]. В Беларуси в результате многолетних исследований местообитаний хищника получены данные о том, что участок может укладываться в интервалы от 5 до 15 га для разных типов водоемов [7][8][9]. J. Zabala с соавторами [10] проводил исследования участков норки с помощью GPS-трекинга в Испании, по их результатам размеры варьируют от 7 до 18 га, в зависимости от сезонов года и половой принадлежности. Подобные данные приводят в своих работах D. W. MaсDonald, L. A. Harrington [11] для США и Новой Зеландии; M. Brzezinski, M. Marzec [12] -Европы. ...
... Both mink species are territorial, have near identical morphologies, similar habitat requirements and potentially compete for the same resources (Maran et al., 1998a;Sidorovich et al., 2009). AM, however, can be 40% larger in body size, have larger litters and a higher ecological plasticity (Maran, 2007). ...
... AM, however, can be 40% larger in body size, have larger litters and a higher ecological plasticity (Maran, 2007). The negative effects of AM on EM are thought to be mediated by inter-specific aggression (Maran et al., 1998b;Podra et al., 2013), competition for food (Sidorovich et al., 2009), and introduced diseases (Mañas et al., 2001). Despite a contracting range in much of Europe, Gómez et al. (2011) presented intriguing evidence that EM has been undergoing a southward range expansion in Spain, where it has only been discovered in 1951 after entering from South-western France in the late 1940s (Palazón et al., 2003;Zabala et al., 2004). ...
... Among alien species excluded from the black-list, the American mink Neovison vison is a North American carnivore (Mustelidae) which has been introduced to Europe for fur farms and now it is very widespread in at least 20 European countries (Bonesi and Palazon, 2007;Mori and Mazza, 2019), where it has been reported to threat local populations of water voles, amphibians, crayfishes and birds (e.g. Ferreras and Macdonald, 1999;Clode and Macdonald, 2002;Ahola et al., 2006;Sidorovich et al., 2010;Brzeziński et al., 2018). Furthermore, it may compete with native mustelids (e.g. ...
... García et al. (2009) and Fig. 1. Locations of studies on the diet of invasive mink in Europe: 1) Bueno (1996); 2) Melero et al. (2009) 3) Angelici et al. (2000); 4) Mori and Mazza (2019); 5) Lapini (1991); 6) Mezzetto et al. (2019); 7) Lode (1993); 8) Bonesi et al. (2004); 9) Ferreras and Macdonald (1999); 10) Dunstone and Birks (1987); 11) Zschille et al. (2014); 12) Novakovà and Koubek, 2006;13) Bartoszewicz and Zalewski (2003); 14) Krawczyk et al. (2014); 15) Jędrzejewska et al. (2001); 16-18) Brzeziński (2006); 19-23) Sidorovich (2000), Sidorovich et al. (2010); 24) Maran et al. (1998);25-27) Gerell (1967); 28) Erlinge (1969); 29-30) Hammershøj et al. (2004). Shaded areas represent the range of the American mink in Europe. ...
Article
The American mink Neovison vison is an invasive species in Europe with a number of expanding populations in over 20 countries. In this work, we reviewed feeding habits and temporal behaviour of the American mink introduced to Europe. We summarised the results of 30 studies on diet of this mustelid and of 5 studies on activity rhythms. Trophic niche breadth was high in Europe and increased with increasing sampling period, thus emphasizing that American mink may shape its diet according to the seasonal availability of potential prey. American minks showed a polyphasic or cathemeral locomotor pattern, being active both during the day and the night in Europe and tending to limit encounter probabilities with native, larger mustelids. Acceptance of programs of eradication/numerical control are linked to the awareness of impact by this semiaquatic mammal and to recent sightings of free-ranging individuals. Numerical control of this charismatic, invasive mammal species may thus encounter a strong opposition by the general public, particularly because its presence and its impacts are poorly known. Educational campaigns and consultation with all potential stakeholders should be addressed to design effective decision-making processes.
... Habitat degradation and human-mediated translocations of invasive species are some of the leading threats to biodiversity worldwide (Mack et al., 2000;Simberloff et al., 2013). Following establishment and subsequent spread, non-native species can negatively impact native communities and ecosystems through various ecological processes, such as competition for limited shared resources, direct predation, habitat displacement via agonistic interactions, habitat or food-web alterations, or the contamination of native genotypes through introgressive hybridisation (D'Amato et al., 2007;Martin et al., 2010;Salo et al., 2007;Sidorovich et al., 2010;Vander Zanden et al., 1999); all of these translate into considerable environmental and economic consequences on ecosystems and human populations, respectively (Mack et al., 2000;Nghiem et al., 2013). ...
... PC loadings are shown in the bottom-left insert. Dotted ellipses represent the 95% confidence intervals of centroid means become severely limiting for native populations (Sidorovich et al., 2010). Given that C. gariepinus has been shown to feed at a higher frequency and across a larger spatial extent than C. batrachus (Chakraborty et al., 2000), and grows at a faster rate (Verreth et al., 1993) to a much larger size (≤1.5 m in total length, vs. 40 cm in C. batrachus) (Ng et al., 2014;Welcomme & Vidthayanon, 2003), synergisms between trophic and habitat competition may be the driver of native C. batrachus displacement from preferred habitats. ...
Article
The African sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus, is a globally invasive species with known severe impacts, including native species declines through ecological (e.g., competition, predation) and genetic interactions (e.g., hybridisation, introgression). The species was introduced to the Malay Peninsula in the late 1980s, and has since become widely established. In this study, we used structural equation models (SEMs) (habitat analyses) and stable isotope analyses (dietary analyses) to elucidate the determinants of C. gariepinus invasion success in streams of the Malay Peninsula and investigate potential impacts on native counterparts. Our SEMs indicate that C. gariepinus invasions were mediated by greater anthropogenic influences as well as environmental conditions associated with open streams (large channels, higher temperatures and lower canopy cover). Additionally, on the one hand, we find that invasions by C. gariepinus have led to substantial negative impacts on the native Asian walking catfish, Clarias batrachus, with the latter being displaced, or in some areas extirpated, from its characteristic open‐stream habitats. On the other hand, C. gariepinus invasions did not appear to impact the native forest specialist, Clarias leiacanthus. Stable isotope analyses showed that all three Clarias species were opportunistic, generalist feeders. There was substantial overlap in the diets of C. gariepinus and C. batrachus. However, C. leiacanthus generally assimilated comparatively greater volumes of aquatic macroinvertebrate prey, therefore reducing dietary overlap with introduced C. gariepinus. Our findings indicate that propagule pressure and exaptations probably have played a major role in facilitating C. gariepinus invasions in the Malay Peninsula. Furthermore, our results suggest that habitat competition may have acted synergistically with trophic competition to drive C. gariepinus impacts on native species, although this was mitigated by differentiation in ecological preferences. Our results help shed light on the general characteristics of invasive species, the mechanisms facilitating their proliferation, and the potential outcomes of biological invasions. These highlight the urgent need to manage the introduction, spread and impacts of invasive C. gariepinus in the Malay Peninsula and elsewhere in its invaded range.
... For example, European and American mink (Mustela lutreola and Neovision vision) are characterized by similar morphology and ecology and both species occupy semi-aquatic habitats. The invasion of American mink in Europe caused drastic declines of European mink due to interspecific competition [112][113][114]. Likewise, the smaller arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is excluded from more productive habitats by the larger red fox [18,19] and the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) can be excluded from habitats with high vole densities by the two times larger stoat (Mustela erminea) through interference competition [115]. ...
Article
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Coexistence of ecologically similar species relies on differences in one or more dimensions of their ecological niches, such as space, time and resources in diel and/or seasonal scales. However, niche differentiation may result from other mechanisms such as avoidance of high predation pressure, different adaptations or requirements of ecologically similar species. Stone marten (Martes foina) and pine marten (Martes martes) occur sympatrically over a large area in Central Europe and utilize similar habitats and food, therefore it is expected that their coexistence requires differentiation in at least one of their niche dimensions or the mechanisms through which these dimensions are used. To test this hypothesis, we used differences in the species activity patterns and habitat selection, estimated with a resource selection function (RSF), to predict the relative probability of occurrence of the two species within a large forest complex in the northern geographic range of the stone marten. Stone martens were significantly heavier, have a longer body and a better body condition than pine martens. We found weak evidence for temporal niche segregation between the species. Stone and pine martens were both primarily nocturnal, but pine martens were active more frequently during the day and significantly reduced the duration of activity during autumn-winter. Stone and pine martens utilized different habitats and almost completely separated their habitat niches. Stone marten strongly preferred developed areas and avoided meadows and coniferous or deciduous forests. Pine marten preferred deciduous forest and small patches covered by trees, and avoided developed areas and meadows. We conclude that complete habitat segregation of the two marten species facilitates sympatric coexistence in this area. However, spatial niche segregation between these species was more likely due to differences in adaptation to cold climate, avoidance of high predator pressure and/or food preferences by both species than competitive interaction between them.
... The mink prefers a wide range of semiaquatic habitats such as riverbanks along streams, lakes, and near the coast (Gerell, 1970) but is also found in drier habitats (Birks and Dunstone, 1991). In these various habitats mink diet composition also greatly varies and they prey on small mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates (e.g., crayfish; Gerell, 1967; Sidorovich et al., 2010; Zalewski and Bartoszewicz, 2012). Mink have 1 litter per year and mating period starts in late winter to early spring. ...
Article
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The American mink (Neovison vison) was introduced to Danish fur farms in the 1930s. An unknown number of mink have managed to escape these farms over the years. Today feral mink are found in the wild in most parts of Denmark. A population viability analysis (PVA) was performed using VORTEX, a stochastic population simulation software in order to 1) predict the viability and potential population expansion from different sizes of founding populations of farm escapees, 2) investigate which parameters mostly affect the viability, 3) assess the effects of continuous escapes on the feral populations and how the feral populations are affected by management programs and to 4) discuss eradication strategies and their efficiency in management of the feral American mink population in Denmark. The simulations showed that juvenile mortality had the greatest effect on population viability, followed by fecundity, adult mortality and initial population size. Populations supplemented yearly by escapees all reached the carrying capacity and gained genetic variability over the years. Harvesting was modeled as the yearly number of mink caught in Denmark. Most of the simulated harvested populations crashed within few years after the first harvesting event. This indicates that the feral number of mink in Denmark is sustained due to supplements from mink farms and no true feral population exists. In order to manage the number of feral mink in Denmark it is essential to prevent escapees. The eradication effort would be most effective if focused on late summer and autumn when juvenile mink leave the maternal territory.
... Namely, the results from the present continental-scale approach mirror the patterns previously detected in local studies, where the spread of invasive mink is linked to the retraction of its native counterpart populations (Sidorovich, 2000a). The American mink impacts the native polecat (and likely other small mustelids like the European mink and the stoat, Sidorovich, 2000a), not only via habitat exclusion (Sidorovich, 2000a) or trophic competition (Sidorovich, 2000b;Sidorovich et al., 2010), but also via ASR distortion after the disappearance of the smallest females (Sidorovich, 2000a). In fact, polecat sex-ratio is male-biased when datasets include older individuals, likely because males live longer (Sidorovich, 2000a;Ansorge and Suchentrunk, 2001;Tumanov, 2003). ...
... They hunt for both aquatic and terrestrial prey; therefore, in their native and introduced range they feed on a variety of prey including rodents, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates (Jędrzejewska et al., 2001). Rodents are some of the most important food resources to American mink, and at some sites rodent contribution to mink diet reaches 45% of consumed biomass (Jędrzejewska et al., 2001;Sidorovich et al., 2010). American mink also exhibit interspecific killing of smaller carnivores or cannibalistic behaviour (Bartoszewicz and Zalewski, 2003). ...
... El caso del visón americano Neovison vison (Schreber, 1777) es diferente, ya que se conoce con bastante precisión su origen y las fechas del comienzo de su invasión, al menos en el caso de Bizkaia (donde se citó por primera vez en el medio natural en 1993, , y ha pasado de no existir a ser una especie invasora ampliamente extendida y abundante en apenas dos décadas (Rodríguez-Refojos & Zuberogoitia, 2011). Una de las principales causas de regresión de las poblaciones de visón europeo se relaciona con la competencia con el visón americano y su rápida expansión por toda el área de distribución de la especie autóctona (Maran et al. 1998;Sidorovich et al. 2010;Podra et al., 2013). ...
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In this paper we show the population trends and the evolution of the knowledge of European Mustela lutreola (Linnaeus, 1761) and American mink Neovison vison (Schreber, 1777) in Bizkaia during the two last decades (1990-2013). The first European mink occupied the eastern basins, spreading quickly to the rest of the study area but declining again later, the last populations surviving in Butrón, Oka and Kadagua rivers. Concurrently the American mink was detected in the the Butrón river in the first years of the decade of the 90s, and later in Artibai and Lea rivers, rapidly expanding to the rest of the rivers of the middle east of Bizkaia.. We conducted ecological and behavioural studies of both species between 1999 and 2013. Some of the main results showed the preference of both mink species for bramble patches in the river banks, their intra-specific spatial segregation and the strong territoriality of the European mink. In this sense, mink males occupied mainly the main rivers while the home ranges of females were located in secondary streams, using the principal river as corridor between different tributaries. Finally, the main threat factors for the conservation of the European mink population in the area seem to be competition with the American mink, water pollution and river fragmentation due to the construction of new infrastructures.
... Deviations from time normally spent in aggressive encounters alter the time spent in other activities like shredding detritus or mating. Predator populations, like bass and mink, in the ecosystem are affected directly by a decrease in crayfish prey populations due to the decrease in time spent mating (Kellogg & Dorn 2012; Sidorovich et al. 2010). Organisms affected indirectly include insect that feed on shredded detritus and that inhabit plant species (Inoda 2011; Serandour et al. 2006; Sharma et al. 1984). ...
... El caso del visón americano Neovison vison (Schreber, 1777) es diferente, ya que se conoce con bastante precisión su origen y las fechas del comienzo de su invasión, al menos en el caso de Bizkaia (donde se citó por primera vez en el medio natural en 1993, , y ha pasado de no existir a ser una especie invasora ampliamente extendida y abundante en apenas dos décadas (Rodríguez-Refojos & Zuberogoitia, 2011). Una de las principales causas de regresión de las poblaciones de visón europeo se relaciona con la competencia con el visón americano y su rápida expansión por toda el área de distribución de la especie autóctona (Maran et al. 1998;Sidorovich et al. 2010;Podra et al., 2013). ...
Article
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Este artículo se muestra la evolución de las poblaciones y el conocimiento del visón europeo Mustela lutreola (Linnaeus, 1761) y americano Neovison vison (Schreber, 1777) en Bizkaia en las dos últimas décadas (1990-2013). Durante los primeros años de los noventa los visones europeos se distribuían preferentemente por las cuencas orientales, expandiéndose a la práctica totalidad de los ríos al final de la década y retrayéndose a las cuencas del Butrón, Oka y Kadagua, principalmente, en 2010. Mientras tanto, a comienzos de los noventa aparecieron las primeras poblaciones de visón americano en el río Butrón, y poco después en los ríos Artibai y Lea, expandiéndose rápidamente por todas las cuencas de la mitad oriental de Bizkaia. Paulatinamente se desarrollaron trabajos sobre la ecología y comportamiento de ambas especies, destacando aspectos como la selección positiva que ambas especies hacen de la vegetación arbustiva de las riberas, la fuerte territorialidad de los visones europeos o la separación espacial intraespecífica en ambas especies. Los estudios mostraron como, en ambas especies, las poblaciones se ordenan de los cauces principales hacia los tributarios, de forma que los machos dominantes mantendrían sus áreas vitales en los principales y entrarían en los secundarios en busca de hembras, mientras que las hembras ocuparían los tributarios y utilizarían tramos de río principal como canales de flujo entre diferentes arroyos de su territorio. Por último, los principales factores que amenazan la supervivencia de las poblaciones de visón europeo son la competencia con el visón americano, la contaminación de las aguas y, de forma notable, la fragmentación del medio como consecuencia de las obras que se realizan en los ríos.
... Les impacts indirects des introductions sont susceptibles de modifier les densités d'une espèce prédatrice ou parasite indigène (Courchamp et al. 2003). Par exemple, l'introduction du vison d'Amérique (Mustela vison) a diminué, par exploitation compétitive, la proportion de larges proies dans le régime alimentaire des visons européens (Mustela lutreola) (Sidorovich et al. 2010). En milieux insulaires, isolés géographiquement et plus sensibles aux perturbations, des changements majeurs de la structure et du fonctionnement des communautés et des écosystèmes peuvent être engendrés par l'introduction d'une ou plusieurs espèces envahissantes (Williamson and Fitter 1996). ...
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La variation de la diversité des communautés d’hôtes réservoirs peut modifier le risque de maladies impliquant ces espèces. En particulier, l’introduction d’une espèce potentiellement réservoir est susceptible d’augmenter le risque de maladie, en agissant comme un réservoir supplémentaire et/ou en amplifiant la circulation des agents pathogènes chez les réservoirs autochtones. L’objectif du travail de thèse est de quantifier la contribution, d’une espèce introduite, le tamia de Sibérie (Tamias sibiricus barberi), au risque d’une maladie multi-hôtes, la borréliose de Lyme, due à des bactéries appartenant au complexe d’espèces Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato et transmises par des tiques, principalement Ixodes ricinus en Europe. Dans un premier temps, nous avons testé si le tamia est un réservoir compétent pour la maladie de Lyme en milieu naturel, c'est-à-dire s’il est capable de transmettre B. burgdorferi sl aux tiques I. ricinus et de maintenir l’infection. Le tamia est fortement infesté par les tiques et infecté par les bactéries et il peut transmettre B. burgdorferi sl aux tiques. Nos résultats ne montrent pas clairement que le tamia peut maintenir l’infection. Une des deux composantes du risque de la maladie de Lyme pour l’homme est le risque acarologique, c'est-à-dire la densité de nymphes infectées en quête d’hôtes. Dans un deuxième temps, nous avons calculé la contribution du tamia au risque acarologique et l’avons comparé à celles du campagnol roussâtre (Myodes glareolus) et du mulot sylvestre (Apodemus sylvaticus), réservoirs avérés de B. burgdorferi sl. Puis, nous avons étudié la variation temporelle de la contribution du tamia et testé si sa présence influençait la contribution des réservoirs rongeurs natifs. Pour calculer la contribution au risque, nous avons utilisé deux approches, l’une basée sur des captures des rongeurs, et l’autre sur l’identification des espèces hôtes sur lesquelles se sont gorgées les tiques. Le tamia produit plus de nymphes infectées à l’affût que le campagnol et le mulot. La contribution du tamia varie entre années suivant la densité de tamias et intra-années suivant la disponibilité en tiques. Sa plus forte infestation par I. ricinus et infection par B. burgdorferi sl, que les rongeurs natifs, peuvent être expliquées par sa plus forte exposition aux tiques. En conclusion, le tamia semble un réservoir compétent pour B. burgdorferi sl, avec une forte contribution au risque acarologique et une amplification possible de la circulation des pathogènes dans les communautés natives. Sa présence peut augmenter le risque pour la borréliose de Lyme chez l’homme en augmentant la prévalence d’infection des nymphes, mais pas les densités de nymphes à l’affût.
... Interestingly, reciprocal effects of natives on invaders are also likely. For instance, variation in the abundance, distribution and behaviour of native prey can cause shifts in the TN of an invader (Sidorovich, Polozov & Zalewski, 2010), which might then influence its growth, survival and population dynamics. Our goal was to evaluate the potential reciprocal effects on the TNs of natives and invaders in a simple food web, where such effects should be most easily detected (Elton, 1927;Strong, 1992;Moyle & Light, 1996;Duffy et al., 2007;Sih et al., 2010). ...
Article
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1. Rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) are widespread and invasive salmonids with important lethal effects as predators, although indirect effects are also possible. We used stable isotope analyses (δ15N, δ13C) to explore how the density of invasive trout in 25 Patagonian lakes alters the trophic niche (TN) of a widespread native fish, Galaxias platei (Galaxiidae). We also explored how the density of the galaxiid influences the TN of invasive trout. 2. We quantified two aspects of the TN: (i) the proportion of littoral carbon (PL) and (ii) trophic height (TH) (i.e. the ‘height’ at which the fish feeds in the food web). We related these measures of TN in a given species to the density of other species (as estimated by catch-per-unit-effort). 3. As G. platei body size increased, their PL increased (increasing littoral feeding) in several lakes. However, none of the fish species investigated showed changes in PL with increasing density of the other fish species. TH increased with body size in all three species. In addition, the TH of large G. platei declined with increasing trout density and, reciprocally, the TH of large S. trutta decreased with decreasing G. platei density. 4. The reciprocal effects of native and the invasive fish on TH were as large as a shift of one trophic level. This pattern is consistent with an exhaustion of galaxiid prey for both piscivorous G. platei and S. trutta in lakes with high trout density. 5. These finding support the suggested management strategy of culling trout from overpopulated lakes, which should simultaneously protect native fish and enhance a lucrative sport fishery for large trout.
... The mink prefers a wide range of semiaquatic habitats such as riverbanks along streams, lakes, and near the coast (Gerell, 1970) but is also found in drier habitats (Birks and Dunstone, 1991). In these various habitats mink diet composition also greatly varies and they prey on small mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates (e.g., crayfish; Gerell, 1967; Sidorovich et al., 2010; Zalewski and Bartoszewicz, 2012). Mink have 1 litter per year and mating period starts in late winter to early spring. ...
Article
Inbreeding is an increasing problem in farmed mink, because of limited exchange of individuals between farms. In this study, genetic relatedness within seven American mink (Neovison vison) colour strains originating from 13 different mink farms in Denmark was analysed using 21 polymorphic microsatellite loci. We detected large differences in the level of relatedness (range 0.017-0.520) within colour strains. Moreover, a very strong and highly significant negative correlation between the level of relatedness and fecundity was observed (r = 0.536, P < 0.001) [Correction added after online publication on 9 March 2011: r(2) has been changed to r]. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a correlation has been demonstrated for commercially farmed mink.
... While overhunting eradicated the species in several parts of Eastern Europe in the past [4], habitat loss in western Europe has recently been observed to condition population viability and dispersive potential in areas where rivers have deteriorated [5]. Additionally, there is growing evidence supporting the rapacious effect of the invasive American mink on all remaining populations of the European species [4][5][6][7]. The most recent data from the southwestern population shows that the American mink is occupying the European mink´s distribution area with devastating effect, leading to the disappearance of the latter species [8]. ...
Article
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The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is one of the most threatened mammals of Europe. Its present distribution is limited to three isolated areas: northern Spain and western France, the Danube delta in Romania, and Ukraine and Russia. Hunting pressure, habitat loss and the impact of the alien American mink (Neovison vison) have all been proposed as reasons for this drastic decline. American mink is occupying the last European mink distribution areas leading to the disappearance of the latter species. To add to this dramatic situation, two new threats are currently undermining conservation efforts: firstly, the powerful fur trade lobby is trying to exclude the American mink from the Invasive Species List and secondly, a recent opinion is paradoxically proclaiming to consider southern populations of European mink as invasive species. However, there is an immediate need for energy and budgets to be focused on avoiding this mammal´s imminent extinction.
... There are several potential hypotheses for the American mink impact on the European mink demise, such as transmission of diseases, competition for food resources and inter-specific aggression (Maran et al. 1998). No substantial evidence exists that diseases or food competition could cause the disappearance of the native mink (Maran 2007;Sidorovich et al. 2010). Aggressive interactions between the two species of mink, initiated by American mink, have been documented both in captivity (Maran et al. 1998) and in wild (Sidorovich et al. , 2000. ...
Article
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An experimental release of the European mink (Mustela lutreola) was carried out in the Salburua wetland in North Spain between 2008 and 2010. A partial removal of feral American mink (Neovison vison) was done preceding the release. The survival and the cause of death of each of 27 captive-bred minks were studied during five months after release. Only 22 % of the minks (N=6) survived during whole radio-tracking period. Predation was the most significant cause of mortality (76 %, N=16). Seven European minks (33 % of mortality) were killed by another “minksize” carnivore—the causes of death of these individuals were of particular interest to clarify possible impact of a few remained American mink to released European mink. We used three criteria to identify the exact causes of death of these seven minks: 1. Comparison of the distances of bite marks with the inter-canine distances of small carnivores, 2. Site descriptions and signs of predators and 3. Density of carnivores within the study area. None of the criteria taken separately allowed the complete identification of the predator species. Summing up the results of all three criteria, a male American mink was found to be the most likely predator of at least six released European minks (29 % of overall mortality and 38 % of predated minks). Our results show that the presence of American mink, even if the number is estimated to be low, may seriously limit the success of reinforcement or reintroduction of the European mink.
... The diet of the American mink Neovison vison, an invasive carnivore that heavily impacts native fauna in colonized areas (Bonesi and Palazon 2007;Niemczynowicz et al. 2017), has been well described using scat analysis (Jędrzejewska et al. 2001). Mink diet varies considerably according to the abundance of potential prey, which is shaped by habitat, season, weather conditions, and/or other environmental factors (Sidorovich 2000;Brzeziński 2008;Skierczyński et al. 2008;Sidorovich et al. 2010). In the studies reviewed by Jędrzejewska et al. (2001), mink diet in Europe depends mostly on habitat type and does not change significantly with latitude. ...
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Invasive alien predators pose a threat to native fauna and the studies of their feeding habits are crucial to understanding their impact on prey populations. Diet of the American mink Neovison vison, an invasive species in Europe, is relatively well studied based on scat analysis, however, the use of other methods of diet analysis enables a better overview of this issue. We analyzed the isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen in the livers, which reflects the diet from about 30–40 days (scat analysis provides information on the diet over 1–2 days only) of the American mink from four national parks in Poland and in the muscles of three types of mink prey (root voles, common frogs, and roach) in order to estimate their contribution to the mink diet. Mink in Biebrza and Narew National Parks fed mainly on frogs and fish, in Drawa National Park on voles and fish, and in Warta Mouth National Park almost exclusively on fish—as shown by Bayesian mixing models calculated for three selected groups of prey. There was no isotopic evidence for differences between the diets of male and female mink. In all groups of prey, we found surprisingly high differences between individuals of the same species from different study sites in the isotopic composition of both δ13C (up to 3‰) and δ15N (up to 6‰). Based on a detailed literature review, we predict that the main reasons for these variations are differences in abiotic environment, food availability, and trophic position. We also indicate a lack of data on trophic discrimination in fish and amphibians, which makes it hard to assess the influence of differences in trophic position on isotopic variations. We suggest caution to authors who plan to study geographical variations in diet of animals using stable isotope analysis without acknowledging that taxonomically and ecologically similar prey can differ in isotopic composition between studied areas.
... Over time the abundance of other prey (e.g. waterbirds) and their proportion in the Mink diet may also decrease (Macdonald et al. 2002, Sidorovich et al. 2010, Zalewski & Bartoszewicz 2012). ...
Article
In birds, adaptations that mitigate predators' impact are usually ineffective in confrontation with introduced and rapidly expanding invasive non-native predators. As a consequence, bird populations often decline in the period following the time when predator population is established. Changes in bird numbers and nest spatial distributions in breeding populations of the Eurasian Coot Fulica atra and Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus were studied in Mazurian Lakeland, northeastern Poland in 2002–2003 and 2016, and were analyzed with reference to the abundance of invasive American Mink Neovison vison, whose density declined since mid 1990s. The study was based on a census of breeding pairs and a search of nests at 31 lakes. The numbers of breeding Coots and Grebes increased 2.6-fold and 1.2-fold, respectively. In both study periods Grebes displayed a strong tendency to nest in the vicinity of human settlements and in colonies; however, the percentage of Grebe pairs nesting near settlements and in colonies decreased from 51% to 34% and from 73% to 57%, respectively. Coots also preferred to nest in the vicinity of human settlements. Distributions of their nests have not changed significantly over time: in both periods 55–60% of Coot nests were found in close proximity to human settlements and 13–19% in Grebe colonies. The obtained results suggest that breeding populations of the Coot and Great Crested Grebe can cope with the invasive American Mink, whose predation was considered to be the main reason for waterbird declines in Mazurian Lakeland at the end of 20th century.
... This wide range of occupied habitat is related to the species' generalist diet composition; American mink hunt varied prey, including both aquatic (mainly crayfish, fish, and frogs) and terrestrial (birds and rodents) species (Jędrzejewska et al. 2001;Zalewski and Bartoszewicz 2012). Dietary composition varies greatly between seasons and localities and has also changed over the period of American mink invasion (Jędrzejewska et al. 2001;Bartoszewicz and Zalewski 2003;Sidorovich et al. 2010;Brzeziń ski et al. 2018a). The carnivore typically lives no more than 6 years, but the mortality rate is high, especially in subadult mink (Bonesi et al. 2006). ...
Article
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Invasive non-native species can become reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens and cause their spread during colonization, increasing the risk of zoonoses transmission to both wild hosts and humans. American mink (Neovison vison) are considered an important invasive mammal species responsible for carrying endoparasites. The aim of our study was to evaluate the role of feral American mink as a possible transmission vector of Echinococcus spp. and Toxocara spp. in wildlife. We analysed the frequency of American mink exposure to both parasites, the spatial distribution in Poland, and the variability over time on the basis of specific antibody presence using ELISA and Western blot. Alimentary tract analyses revealed that American mink do not serve as definitive hosts for these parasites. Altogether, 1100 American mink were examined. The average seropositivity for American mink was 14.2% for echinococcosis and 21.7% for toxocarosis; dual-seropositivity was detected in only 6.0%. Seroprevalence of both parasites differed between study sites and significantly increased over time in Toxocara spp. Thus, our study revealed that free-living American mink are exposed to parasites and likely to be involved in the maintenance of both Echinococcus spp. and Toxocara spp. in the wild as paratenic hosts.
... feral cats take terrestrial vertebrates; Doherty et al. 2017), or via increased competition (e.g. invasive American mink compete with native European mammalian carnivores Sidorovich et al. 2010). Mammals are notoriously elusive, making their diet difficult to document through direct observations, so that morphological diagnostics of prey remains from stomach contents and faeces are a popular method (Brzeziński et al. 2018). ...
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1. Invasive non-native species are now considered to be one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide. Therefore, efficient and cost-effective management of species invasions requires robust knowledge of their demography, ecology and impacts, and genetic-based techniques are becoming more widely adopted in acquiring such knowledge. 2. We focus on the use of genetic tools in the applied management of mammalian invasions globally, as well as on their inherent advantages and disadvantages. We cover tools that are used in: 1) detecting and monitoring mammalian invaders; 2) identifying origins and invasive pathways; 3) assessing and quantifying the negative impacts of invaders; and 4) population management and potential eradication of invasive mammals. 3. We highlight changes in sequencing technologies, including how the use of techniques such as Sanger sequencing and microsatellite genotyping, for monitoring and tracing invasive pathways respectively, are now giving way to the use of high-throughput sequencing methods. These include the emergence of environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding for the early detection of invasive mammals, and single nucleotide polymorphisms or whole genomes to trace the sources of invasive populations. We are now moving towards trials of genome-editing techniques and gene drives to control or eradicate invasive rodents. 4. Genetic tools can provide vital information that may not be accessible with non-genetic methods, for the implementation of conservation policies (e.g. early detection using systematic eDNA surveillance, the identification of novel pathogens). However, the lack of clear communication of novel genetic methods and results (including transparency and reproducibility) to relevant stakeholders can be prohibitive in translating these findings to appropriate management actions. Geneticists should engage early with stakeholders to co-design experiments in relation to management goals for invasive mammals.
... American mink is an invasive mammal species with the highest impact on native fauna in Europe, affecting negatively at least 47 native species (Genovesi et al. 2012). Through ecological competition it affects negatively several native carnivores, namely European mink, polecat and stoat (Mustela erminea) , Sidorovich & Macdonald 2001, Sidorovich & Solovej 2007, Sidorovich et al 2010, Zuberogoitia et al. 2013. The impact of American mink predation on waterfowl, seabirds, small mammals, amphibians and fish has also been documented in various studies in Europe (Woodroffe et al. 1990; Barreto et al. 1998, Macdonald et al. 2002a, Ahola et al. 2006, Banks et al. 2008, Ficher et al. 2009, Melero et al. 2012, Brzezinski et al. 2012, Aars et al. 2001) and in South America (Fasola et al. 2011, Valenzuela 2013. ...
Technical Report
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The EU NON-NATIVE SPECIES RISK ANALYSIS – RISK ASSESSMENT TEMPLATE for Neovison vison was made as an argument to introduce this species on the EU Invasive Alien Species list. The first Union list of 37 plant and animal species was introduced in August 2016 and another 12 were added in August 2017. However, this accounts for just 3% of all IAS believed to already be in Europe and disregards a main introductory pathway by not including any marine species. Furthermore, despite the Regulation’s emphasis on prevention, only a handful of species on the list are in the early stages of invasion or are not yet in the EU. One explanation for the limited number of species on the list could be the lack of dedicated IAS funding available. The IAS Regulation recognises that some species may provide economic benefits in certain Member States but asserts that this should not compromise the Regulation objectives. Unfortunately, lobbying pressure means that economic and environmental interests sometimes clash. The American mink significantly affects native mammals and birds, and has caused the extinction of some of the last populations of European mink. It seems that the economic argument has won here with the result that the American mink has not been included on the Union list.
... Those new situations of co-occurrence between species may cause rapid niche changes (over less than 100 years; Fitzpatrick et al., 2007), which may in turn represent a key factor in allowing successful invasion by new species (Pearman et al., 2008). For example, it has been shown that following the American mink (Neovison vison) invasion, the native European mink (Mustela lutreola) switched its diet considerably over the course of a few years to reduce the overlap in food niche (Sidorovich et al., 2010). ...
Article
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The Atlantic-Gaspésie caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) is an endangered, isolated population that has been declining for decades in response to intensive logging. Timber harvesting has led to a significant increase in moose (Alces americanus) densities and has triggered numerical and functional predator responses. Moose are now frequently observed at higher altitudes in preferential caribou habitat. Despite extensive range overlap between these two species across Canada, few studies have precisely assessed the potential role of exploitative competition. We assessed the potential overlap between their diets during summer, a key period for energy and nutrient acquisition in cervids. We collected faeces from both species along an altitudinal gradient (200 m–1250 m asl) and used plant chloroplast barcoding sequence trnL to reconstruct diet at the species level. Plant species composition differed between caribou and moose samples, with cervid species explaining 40% of the variation in dissimilarity. We noted slight variations in dissimilarity between species between months and along an altitudinal gradient. Some species that are almost exclusively eaten by moose (speckled alder, wild redcurrant) or by caribou (common juniper, common horsetail) contributed the most to the dissimilarity between diets. The potential for food competition appears relatively low, even at increased moose densities, possibly as a result of past competition. This separation in food niche could also be explained by an imperfect segregation of species since the proportion of time spent in different strata of altitude is unequal. High moose densities thus appear to be more harmful to caribou due to shared predators, but a low level of competition for a few food items could contribute to the decline of this endangered population if some caribou are nutritionally stressed.
... vison») is classified as invasive species threatening the biodiversity and stability of variouszoocenoses and preservation of multiple threatened species [2]. The most damning example being the role played by N. vison in the near extinction of the European mink Mustela lutreola (Linnaeus, 1761), the latter process being directly tied to uncontrolled spreading of N. vison [3][4][5][6][7]. It also acts as a carrier and natural reservoir for a number of diseases dangerous to the endemic wildlife. ...
Article
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American mink (Neovison vison) is both a problematic invader and an economically valuable fur breed species in Belarus. The increasing scale of mink breeding for fur and the growing impact of this invasive species on the local ecosystems requires sound, novel strategies for managing both farm and wild populations. Containment of wild American mink populations under the effects of possible migration from the fur farms could be especially problematic. With that issue in mind, we have used microsatellite analysis todetermine the genetic polymorphism in two color breeds of farm-bred American mink in the populations of several Belorussian model fur farms, as well as the same characteristics for the feral populations on the territories adjacent to said fur farms. We confirm the presence of effective influx of mink into the wild from fur farms, determined through the means of analyzing microsatellite genotype data of feral and farm populations.
... El visón americano compite con el visón europeo por el territorio y la comida, desplazándolo del nicho y poniéndolo en riesgo de extinción. El visón americano basa su dieta según la disponibilidad de presa en la estación climática, como consecuencia de su predación ha puesto en riesgo también a otras especies como al cangrejo de río europeo (Astacus astacus) o a la rata topera (Arvicola terrestis) (Sidorovich et al., 2010). Además, se ve involucrado en el ciclo de la Trichinella contribuyendo a la transmisión de este parásito en la fauna autóctona (Hurníková et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Conflicts between humans and wildlife occur in all ecosystems causing socioeconomic impacts and damage to the environment. These conflicts have been going on for thousands of years. Interactions between wildlife and humans have both positive and negative consequences. In geographic regions with fewer resources, the economic and/or social impact will be greater. Historically, wildlife had a higher pressure due to hunting. Given the decline in this activity, wildlife has been able to grow and expand without restrictions. This has resulted in increased interactions between people and wildlife. As interactions have grown, so have the resulting damages and problems. Depending on the nature of the conflicts, it can be classified into damage to agriculture, livestock predation, urban conflicts, reemerging zoonoses and invasive species. In order to manage the growing problem, different measures have been developed and implemented, such as lethal control or dissuasive methods. At present, with the growing citizen concern for animal welfare and environmental awareness, it is necessary to address conflicts from the sociological aspect. Tools such as education or citizen participation can be key to mitigating conflicts. It’s important to understand that the management of these conflicts has a great social, economic, health relevance and in the conservation of nature and biodiversity. Finding a way in which humans and wildlife can coexist is critical to the survival of many species.
... In Europe, the American mink Neovison vison is a widespread invasive mammalian species (Bonesi and Palazon 2007). Its competitive impact on native carnivores, mostly the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra and European mink Mustela lutreola, has been studied across the continent (Sidorovich et al. 1999(Sidorovich et al. , 2010Jędrzejewska et al. 2001;Bonesi et al. 2004;Brzeziński et al. 2008). There have also been attempts to explain how the American mink interacts with the European polecat Mustela putorius (Lodé 1993;Hammershøj et al. 2004;Fournier et al. 2007;Harrington and Macdonald 2008;Barrientos 2015), although its impact on polecat populations at a landscape scale remains unclear. ...
Article
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Introduced alien species can negatively affect native competitors by reducing their populations or eliminating them from ecosystems. However, studies do not always find evidence for anticipated impacts, and changes in native populations can be difficult to estimate. Interactions between the invasive American mink Neovison vison and native European polecat Mustela putorius have been studied in several countries, but the mink’s impact on polecat populations at a large spatiotemporal scale remains unclear. In the years 1995–2018, we live-trapped mink and polecats at 60 study sites in Poland, and we analysed hunting bags of mink and polecats from the years 2009–2018. During 13,766 trap-nights, we captured 905 individuals. Mink comprised 91.2% and polecats 8.8% of trapped animals. The mean mink and polecat trappability was 6 and 0.6 individuals per 100 trap-nights, respectively. At rivers, polecat and mink trappability were negatively correlated, whereas at lakes, they were not correlated. The sex ratio of trapped polecats was more skewed toward males than that of mink. Mink comprised 63.6% and polecats 36.4% of 59,831 animals killed by hunters. Over 10 years, the numbers of mink shot annually increased slightly, whereas the numbers of polecat decreased slightly. There was a positive correlation between numbers of mink and polecats shot annually. We found weak evidence that at a large spatiotemporal scale, the invasion of mink has led to a decline in polecat numbers. Although the datasets we analysed were based on large samples, they were insufficient to show evidence of competitive interactions between these two mustelids.
... These similarities may have significant ecological implications in environments inhabited by both species: they may affect interspecific competition for food resources (Moors, 1980). The ecological niches of the polecat and mink overlap: the species often share riparian habitats (Harrington and Macdonald, 2008) and partly exploit the same food resources (Sidorovich, 2000;Sidorovich et al., 2010;Zalewski et al., 2021). Although both interference competition and exploitation competition for food and space can occur, the spatio-temporal coexistence of the polecat and mink appears to be possible in habitats offering sufficient food . ...
Article
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Change in body size is considered to be one of the animal responses to climate warming, although in many cases it is difficult to show whether it is evolutionary or a result of phenotypic plasticity. In this study, we analysed long-term changes in the body size and sex ratio of the European polecat Mustela putorius in relation to two factors: climate warming and competition with the invasive American mink Neovison vison. In the years 1959-2021, the average body mass of polecats inhabiting north-eastern Poland increased from 869 to 1109 g in males and from 449 to 690 g in females, whereas structural body size (the condylobasal length of the skull) increased from 64.4 to 68.0 mm in males and from 55.9 to 59.6 mm in females. The rates of these increases were different for both measures; in consequence, the index of body condition changed non-linearly over time with a high increase in last 30-40 years. The observed increase in polecat body mass and skull size correlated with the rise of mean winter and summer temperatures. We explain the recorded trends by easier access to amphibians (the staple food of polecats in the study area) in mild winters, which increases the survival rate of larger polecats and/or leads to a faster growth rate of subadults in warmer summers. Competition for food between the native polecat and invasive mink could play a role in the increase of polecat body size simultaneously with climate warming, but the timing of recorded changes suggests the second factor to be more important. Our study also confirmed a previous observation of increasing skewed sex-ratio towards polecat males, which, similarly to changes in polecat body size, could have resulted both from climate warming and competition with mink.
... Where predators expand their range, they must adapt their foraging and trophic niche to the new biotic and abiotic conditions (Bevanger & Lindtsröm, 1995;Holmala & Kauhala, 2006;Sidorovich et al., 2010). At the same time, morphological and physiological restrictions (e.g. ...
Article
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Ongoing global changes can lead to the expansion of species' geographical range. Exploring the drivers of the successful ongoing expansion of the golden jackal across Europe is essential to understand the species' trophic ecology. We analysed which climatic and environmental factors affected the dietary composition of golden jackals and compared these drivers in the species' historic and recently colonized distribution ranges. Eurasia. Golden jackal (Canis aureus). Using 40 published datasets, we modelled jackal diet composition using 13 food categories based on the relative frequency of occurrence of food items and trophic niche breadth (BA) against climatic and environmental factors from throughout the jackals' recently colonized (22 studies) and historic range (18 studies) using general additive models. The proportion of small mammals in golden jackal diet decreased with annual mean temperature, whereas the consumption of wild ungulates increased with environmental productivity. Increasing temperature and environmental productivity positively influenced niche breadth, while increasing precipitation negatively affected it. The recently colonized distribution range of golden jackals in Europe had a lower mean temperature but higher environmental productivity compared to the species' historic range in Eurasia. In the recently colonized range, jackals consumed small mammals and/or wild ungulates (mostly from scavenging) more frequently, and fewer plants and/or domestic animals (again, mostly from scavenging). The golden jackal is an opportunistic, omnivorous carnivore with high dietary flexibility and biogeographical variation. Climatic and environmental factors shape the species' diet composition, which, in a changing environment, greatly enhances the opportunities for golden jackals to colonize new areas successfully. Golden jackals will likely continue to expand their range in the foreseeable future. The species' trophic niche is expected to broaden with predictions of overall increasing temperatures and reduced precipitation.
... A commonly utilized method was used to determine the density of the American mink (Harrington et al., 2008;Bonesi and Macdonald, 2004;Sidorovich et al., 2010): the distribution of the animals was based on their tracks during winter. Animal counts were carried out at the same study sites each year, but due to different weather conditions during snow tracking (changes in water level, the presence of ice cover, and others), the route was slightly different. ...
Article
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Invasive animal species pose a significant threat to native biocenoses. For the management of invasive species, it is important to know their distribution. We aimed to investigate the potential use of American mink (Neovison vison) scats as a bioindicator of the presence and density of invasive crayfish Faxonius (Orconectes) limosus (Rafinesque, 1817) in the watercourses. The structure and seasonal dynamics of the mink’s diet were studied in western Belarus. The dietary composition of the American mink showed great similarities across different types of watercourses (rivers and drainage channels). The basic diet consisted of rodents, amphibians, and fish. The crayfish’s presence in the samples during the warm season was negatively dependent on all the other main prey groups, but mostly on aquatic insects. During the cold season the relations were weaker, and crayfish was negatively associated mostly with birds in the samples. The percentage of crayfish in scats collected during the warm season was correlated with crayfish density, which indicated that with higher crayfish densities, the mink more often used this type of prey. However, the regression model was only a moderate fit. Droppings collected during both seasons can indicate the presence of crayfish in the environment. We conclude that the American mink’s diet can be a good indicator of invasive crayfish presence and their density in the environment. However, estimating crayfish density based on the mink’s diet may deviate from the trend during years of low water level, therefore, it is necessary to first assess precipitation during the season.
... ly in summer. The low share of crayfish in the diet probably reflects low abundance in the habitat (Krawczyk unpublished). Crustaceans may be a desirable food category for minks and can even become the staple food of minks, depending on their availability in the habitat (Previtali et al. 1998, Brzeziński 2008, Melero et al. 2008, Fisher et al. 2009, Sidorovich et. al. 2010, Fasola et al. 2011. Other invertebrates, specifically insects, seem to be of minor importance in mink diet because of their low biomass (0.8 %), though they were found in 15 % of analyzed samples, mainly Dytiscus spp. Moreover, the size of their remains indicated that beetles were directly preyed on by minks, and not present as a part ...
Article
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We studied the diet of the American mink (Neovison vison) in small artificial watercourses located in a farmland area of the Barycz River valley in Poland. Rodents, mainly Microtus spp., were the most frequent prey identified, occurring in 88.3% of all analyzed mink scat. Minks also fed willingly on fish, birds and amphibians, whereas insects, crayfish and reptiles accounted for only a small part of the biomass of food consumed. The food niche breadth of the mink’s diet was wide, and varied significantly between seasons; in spring and autumn minks preyed mainly on rodents and fish, while the winter and summer diets consisted of a broad characterization of prey items. The proportion of mammals in the diet also decreased significantly during the summer months. These patterns differ from those previously reported in Europe, and demonstrate the plasticity of the mink diet across habitats.
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The introduction and expansion of an invasive non-native species could have important consequences for the genetic patterns and processes of native species, moreover if the new arrival competes strongly for resources and space. This may result in the demographic decline of the native species. Knowing the effects on the levels of genetic diversity and structure in native species is key in terms of their conservation. We analysed temporal (over 50 years) genetic variation of the population of the European polecat ( Mustela putorius ), a species under threat in several European countries, in the Białowieża Primeval Forest (BPF), Poland, before and after the invasion of the American mink ( Neovison vison ). Using 11 microsatellite loci and a fragment of the mitochondrial control region we show that levels of diversity changed in the polecat population over 53 generations (over the period 1959–2012) and after the invasion of mink. When compared with other threatened European polecat populations, high levels of diversity are observed in the population in BPF in both periods, as well as in other areas in Poland. Our data shows that genetic structure was not present either before or after the mink invasion in BPF. This would suggest that the polecat population in Poland was not affected by invasive species and other negative factors and would be a potential good source of individuals for captive breeding or genetic rescue conservation management actions in areas where such actions are needed, for example the UK.
Article
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Regular counts from 2005 to 2009 were made of the waterbirds inhabiting lakes and ponds in Lanín National Park in the southwestern part of Neuquén Province, Argentina, a landscape dominated by Andean–Patagonian wetlands and forests. Bird surveys conducted on 21 wetland areas detected 8,311 individuals belonging to 27 species from 9 families. The most abundant and frequent species were Ashy-headed Goose (Chloephaga poliocephala), Speckled Teal (Anas flavirostris), Red-gartered Coot (Fulica armillata) and White-winged Coot (Fulica leucoptera). The presence and abundance of bird species with respect to wetland surface area was examined. Small lakes (<100 ha) had higher numbers of individuals, but some species such as the Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax olivaceus), Great Grebe (Podiceps major), Flying Steamer Duck (Tachyeres patachonicus) and Spectacled Duck (Anas specularis) were more abundant at larger lakes. Speckled Teal, Red Shoveler (Anas platalea) and Chiloe Wigeon (A. sibilatrix) were more common in small- and medium-sized lakes. Most waterbird species were found at a smaller percentage of the lakes where mink were present than at mink-free lakes. Although the ponds and lakes studied are protected within the network of this Argentine National Park, such protection is not implemented effectively. Hence, their future conservation faces several potential threats such as American mink expansion, tourism, fishing and hunting. This information could contribute to the development of management guidelines for the effective conservation of Patagonian wetlands.
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There are only three remaining populations of European mink Mustela lutreola (Linnaeus, 1761) in Europe: the Western (Spain and France), the Romanian (Danube Delta) and the Russian population (divided into several subpopulations). The current Spanish population is composed of less than 500 individuals, distributed along 2300 kilometres of watercourses. The presence and the ecological competition with the American mink, the lost of available habitat, water pollution, the isolation and the small size of the population, a high human-induced mortality and the prevalence of the Aleutian mink disease are the main threats faced by the European mink in Spain and other European countries. The National Conservation Strategy aims to ensure the viability of Spanish European mink population by increasing its population size and distribution. However, there first urge is to control the American mink and improve the riparian habitat. Otherwise, European mink could be displaced by the American mink in few years.
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The American mink (Neovison vison) is a species that experienced unprecedented ecological success in the 20th century, which can be seen in both the dynamic increase in its zoogeographical range, and in its effective adaptation to ecological niches in new areas. The driving forces of this phenomenon include intensification and globalization of mink farming, which is accompanied by introduction and rapid spread of the species outside its natural range. The first observations of mink in the wild in Poland took place in the middle of the last century. Within 60 years, American mink colonized almost entire country and the process of invasion and colonization is still ongoing. The high rate of invasion and ecological success achieved by the populations from the introduction is possible due to the high ecological plasticity of American mink, its high reproductive potential, the availability of free ecological niche left by European mink (Mustela lutreola), extinct in many areas, and the frequent lack of natural enemies on the occupied territories. Dynamic geographical spread of allochthonous American mink is associated with a number of very serious ecological problems, primarily through predation, competition and aggression against indigenous fauna, as well as transmission of Aleutian mink disease virus. This results in fact that American mink is regarded as one of most dangerous invasive species in the world. In the absence of practical possibilities of its permanent eradication from Poland, local eradication programs on vulnerable areas (e.g. waterbirds breeding sites), as well as large−scale population size control, promotion of natural enemies and competitors, and improvement of living conditions of its prey−species are most recommended. The most important in monitoring and control programs of alien populations is limitation of farm−animals escapes and recognition of methods for their simple and unambiguous identification. Indisputable determination of the free−ranging animals origin would allow for taking the appropriate actions against owners of the unsafe farms. At the same time, implementation of a holistic and systemic approach to solve the problem of the presence of American mink in the natural environment would help to fulfil Polish obligations resulting from ratified international conventions and EU law.
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As a result of our long-term research (1978–2013), the spatial structure patterns of American mink (Neovison vison Schreber, 1777) populations, their nutrition, and daily and seasonal activity in the floodplain and right-bank ecosystems of the Volgograd water reservoir have been revealed. The average size of the home ranges of the mink is 22.4 ha for females and 34.7 ha for males on the islands. On the right shore of the reservoir, they are significantly larger, namely, 51.3 and 75.5 ha, respectively. The diet of the mink is based on three forage groups: mammals (primarily mouselike rodents) (18.8–42.7% BIO), fish (5.6–39.1% BIO), and amphibians (17.1–51.7% BIO). Other food is significant only in certain seasons. On the floodplain islands, the mink is the most active in spring and fall, while its summer activity decreases, and in winter the daily rhythm clearly has two peaks, the morning and evening ones. On the right bank, due to the food scarcity in some seasons, the activity peaks are smooth.
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In order to explore the interaction and competitive coexistence mechanism between pest and natural enemy populations, the dynamic temporal pattern, niche breadth and overlap of pest and natural enemy populations in cotton field were systematically investigated by direct observation. The results showed that dominant species of pest and natural enemy were different in different growth duration of spring cotton. The peak period mostly occurred in June and July. The peak periods of Aphis gossypii Glover and Empoasca biguttula were in late May and late September, respectively. Different populations had distinct temporal niches. For pests, niche breadth of cotton mirids was the largest, followed by Helicoverpa armigera, and Empoasca biguttula and Tetranychus cinnatarinus had relatively smaller niche breadth. For natural enemies, niche breadth of arachnid in cotton field was the largest, followed by Orius minutes, and Scymnus hoffmanni had relatively smaller niche breadth. While Scymnus hoffmanni and other coccinellid species had large niche overlap with Aphis gossypii Glover and Tetranychus cinnatarinus. Thus, it was deduced that coccinellid species could be applied to control Aphis gossypii Glover and Tetranychus cinnatarinus, and natural enemies such as spiders should be protected and exploited. Helicoverpa armigera and cotton mirids should be the key species to be controlled in direct-seeding spring cotton fields in southwest Anhui Province. 基金项目: 转基因生物新品种培育重大专项 "转基因棉花环境安全评价技术" (2016ZX08011-002)。
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Predation, one of the most dramatic interactions in animals' lives, has long fascinated ecologists. This volume presents carnivores, raptors and their prey in the complicated net of interrelationships, and shows them against the background of their biotic and abiotic settings. It is based on long-term research conducted in the best preserved woodland of Europe's temperate zone. The role of predation, whether limiting or regulating prey (ungulate, rodent, shrew, bird, and amphibian) populations, is quantified and compared to parts played by other factors: climate, food resources for prey, and availability of other potential resources for predators.
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Five native terrestrial mustelids are found in Great Britain. Only three of these occur in Ireland. Farmed American mink have recently established feral populations on both islands. We studied inter- and intraspecific size relationships, sexual size dimorphism, and morphological variation among these mustelids. We viewed each size as a separate morphospecies, skull length as a measure of body size, and the upper canine tooth as the organ used to kill prey. Geographic variation was low in both islands, so we considered the mustelid population of each island a single unit. Community-wide character displacement (evidence by equal size ratios) was found among British mustelids for canine diameter. For skull length it was seen only when the largely vermivorous badger was excluded. When we added feral mink the regular pattern disappeared, but when we substituted the mink for the polecat, which is now restricted to parts of Wales and adjacent England, community-wide character displacement was manifest. For Irish mustelids size ratios were not equal, but the pattern for canines was more regular than for skull lengths. Adding the local feral mink did not result in a regular pattern, but addition of the mink and exclusion of the badger yielded equal ratios for skull length but not for canines. These patterns plus published empirical data support a hypothesis of prey size partitioning. The significant differences in size between some of the British and Irish populations of the same morphospecies suggest the possibility of ecological release among Irish mustelids, whose populations originally derived from British ones. In particular, canine sexual size dimorphism is greater for Irish pine martens, stoats, and mink, as would be expected if there were fewer competitors. For the marten and the stoat, Irish females have evolved to be strikingly smaller than their British counterparts, in each case approximating the size of the male of a missing species (polecat for the marten, weasel for the stoat). For skull length there is no consistent patterns. Finally, morphological variation is greater in Ireland for five or six morphospecies, as predicted by the niche-variation hypothesis.
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In 1986-1997, diet composition of the native riparian mustelids: the otter Lutra lutra (Linnaeus, 1758), the European mink Mustela lutreola (Linnaeus, 1761), the polecat M. putorius (Linnaeus, 1758), and the naturalized one, the American mink M. vison (Schreber, 1777) was studied in relation to seasonal changes of the habitats (the Lovat river, NE Belarus). Amphibians, fish, crayfish, small mammals, and birds appeared the essential prey resources supporting the guild of riparian mustelids. In the river valleys, the two mink species and polecat were characterized by opportunistic feeding habits, whereas the otters specialised on fish. In spring and autumn, frogs were important prey to all mustelids studied. The trophic niches of the two mink species were wider than those of the otter and the polecat. In the seasonally changing environmental conditions, the American mink appeared a more opportunistic predator than the European mink. Food niches of the three native mustelids overlapped notably less with each other (Pianka's α from 0.24 to 0.70) than with the American mink (α from 0.60 to 0.89). The obtained data suggest that in river valley habitats the naturalized American mink may he a strong competitor for prey with the native riparian mustelids, especially the European mink and the polecat.
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This study describes the diet of European mink (Mustela lutreola) in Northern Spain. The diet was analysed from 105 European mink samples. Moreover, we collected other 37 faeces from a radiotracked European mink male. The European mink diet was based on small mammals (relative frequency of occurrences 36,9%), fish (30,6%) and birds (17,8%). The Levins index of trophic-niche width was 3,76. Wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus was the most consumed small mammal and Cyprinids -mainly Barbus sp. was the most consumed fish. The average size and weight of consumed fish were 13,5 cm and 31,5 g, respectively and males consumed larger and heavier fish than females.
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We measured daily movements and use of home ranges for 14 radio-collared pine martens (Martes martes) in Bialowieza National Park (eastern Poland) in 1991-1996. Data were collected during 70 continuous sessions of 24-h radio-tracking with locations taken at 15-min intervals. Daily movement distance (DMD, sum of straight-line distances between consecutive locations) averaged 5.1 km(.)d(-1) (min-max: 0.4-12.6) in females and 5.8 km(.)d(-1) (min-max: 0.7-12.7) in males. The mean speed of martens was 0.6 km(.)h(-1) (min-max: 0.2-1.4). Daily ranges (DR) used by martens averaged 49 ha. (min-max: 1-149) in females and 54 ha (min-max: 1-182) in males and constituted 0.3% to 88% (mean 26% and 29%, respectively) of annual home ranges held by martens. Indices of penetration of daily ranges (IPDR, in metres of route per hectare of DR) showed whether the daily routes of martens were densely packed and concentrated or loosely distributed. IPDR averaged 220 m(.)ha(-1) in females and 139 m(.)ha(-1) in males. Ambient temperature, abundance of forest rodents (martens' main prey resource), sex, and reproductive activity of an animal were crucial factors shaping the variation in all parameters. DMD, DR, and speed were positively correlated with ambient temperature (from -17 degreesC to 26 degreesC). With increasing temperature, martens moved faster, covered longer distances, and used larger daily ranges. Mobility and home range use were affected by breeding activity. In spring, females rearing cubs had longer DMD and moved faster than non-breeding females. In summer, males covered larger daily ranges during the mating period than outside it. We reviewed the available data on pine martens' wintertime DMD in Europe. In locations ranging from 41degrees to 69degrees N, the average and maximum recorded DMD of martens increased from south to north. We propose that pine martens have to cover longer routes to fulfil their food requirements in the conditions of declining ecosystem productivity and shrinking prey resources found along the south-north gradient.
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Diet composition, niche measures, and prey consumption of three sympatric species of carnivores, one non-native and introduced, the American minkNeovison vison Schreber, 1777, and two native, the spotted genetGenetta genetta Linnaeus, 1758 and the Eurasian otterLutra lutra Linnaeus, 1758, were studied in a Spanish Mediterranean area. The study was based on the analysis of prey remains in the faeces of the predators. Faeces of mink (n = 444), genet (n = 310), and otter (n = 108) were collected all year round for four years along the Llobregat (21 km) and Gavarresa rivers (12 km). Simultaneously, and in the same area, prey species density and weight were estimated by means of trapping. The diet of mink and genet was dominated by the American crayfishProcambarus clarkii, while the otter fed almost exclusively on fish. Compared to the mink, the genet seemed to specialise more on small mammals while the mink specialised more on aquatic birds, especially in autumn-winter. Niche overlap was higher between mink and genet than between either of them and the otter. Key wordsdiet-American crayfish-niche width-niche overlap-competition
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We examined the distribution patterns of native animals on Amami-Oshima Island, southern Japan, along a historical gradient of mongoose establishment and estimated the effects of mongoose on the native fauna. To assess the relative abundance of various ground-dwelling animals, we used the following four methods; sensor cameras for exotic mammals, nighttime driving census for nocturnal native vertebrates, line census for ground-dwelling lizards, and adhesive traps for arthropods. The results indicated that seven species with larger body size, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, were rarely observed in mongoose-infested area. By contrast, medium-sized animals showed neutral relationships with mongoose establishment. Interestingly, the densities of smaller-sized animals were higher in mongoose-infested area. It could be interpreted that smaller species have increased in abundance through top-down cascades, i.e., decreases in native predators such as frogs and lizards caused by the mongoose have resulted in increases in the abundance of smaller animals. Predation pressures by mongoose and native predators may be canceled out for medium-sized animals, causing neutral responses to mongoose by these animals. This study appears to be the first example that shows the influence of mongoose on a wide variety of native animals. In addition, our findings indicate the importance of considering the food web structure of a recipient ecosystem and contribute to the prediction and assessment of ecological risks caused not only by mongoose, but also by other invasive top predators.
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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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Interspecific killing is a key determinant of the abundances and distributions of carnivores, their prey, and nonprey community members. Similarity of body size has been proposed to lead competitors to seek similar prey, which increases the likelihood of interference encounters, including lethal ones. We explored the influence of body size, diet, predatory habits, and taxonomic relatedness on interspecific killing. The frequency of attacks depends on differences in body size: at small and large differences, attacks are less likely to occur; at intermediate differences, killing interactions are frequent and related to diet overlap. Further, the importance of interspecific killing as a mortality factor in the victim population increases with an increase in body size differences between killers and victims. Carnivores highly adapted to kill vertebrate prey are more prone to killing interactions, usually with animals of similar predatory habits. Family-level taxonomy influences killing interactions; carnivores tend to interact more with species in the same family than with species in different families. We conclude that although resource exploitation (diet), predatory habits, and taxonomy are influential in predisposing carnivores to attack each other, relative body size of the participants is overwhelmingly important. We discuss the implications of interspecific killing for body size and the dynamics of geographic ranges.
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Alien predators are widely considered to be more harmful to prey populations than native predators. To evaluate this expectation, we conducted a meta-analysis of the responses of vertebrate prey in 45 replicated and 35 unreplicated field experiments in which the population densities of mammalian and avian predators had been manipulated. Our results showed that predator origin (native versus alien) had a highly significant effect on prey responses, with alien predators having an impact double that of native predators. Also the interaction between location (mainland versus island) and predator origin was significant, revealing the strongest effects with alien predators in mainland areas. Although both these results were mainly influenced by the huge impact of alien predators on the Australian mainland compared with their impact elsewhere, the results demonstrate that introduced predators can impose more intense suppression on remnant populations of native species and hold them further from their predator-free densities than do native predators preying upon coexisting prey.
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Mink Mustela vison appeared in the inner part of the Stockholm Archipelago in 1972 and reached the outer island groups ten years later. During the period there were relatively large population changes: eider Somateria mollissima, greylag goose Anser anser and great black-backed gull Larus marinus increased markedly in numbers while lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus, razorbill Alca torda and black guillemot Cepphus grylle decreased dramatically. The increases as well as the decrease of lesser black-backed gull were consistent with general trends in the Baltic. The temporal and spatial pattern of the decrease of razorbill and black guillemot, both specialised hole-nesters strongly support the conclusion that predation by mink is the main reason. For the marked distribution shift noted for eider and herring gull Larus argentatus, mink predation is also suspected. -from English summary
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Individual feeding behaviour of the European mink Mustela lutreola and American mink M. vison inhabiting the upper reaches of the Lovat river, NE Belarus was investigated. Three out of the nine individual European minks studied were specialists on frogs (mainly common frog Rana temporaria). The majority (77-97%) of their scats contained frog remains, and frogs constituted 62-88% of food biomass consumed. One European mink fed mostly on crayfish (Astacus astacus); 62% of its scats contained crayfish remains, and crayfish constituted about 61% of the food biomass consumed. The other five European minks studied were generalist predators at watersides. Three out of the ten individual American minks studied were micromammalian specialists; 86-92% of their scats contained remains of small mammals (mostly water vole Arvicola terrestris and microtines), and small mammals constituted 83-88% of food biomass consumed. The other seven American minks were generalist predators. No correlation was found between the proportion of small mammals in the diets (expressed in percentage of food biomass consumed) and their abundance in the habitats. Hence, those American minks mostly feeding on small mammals demonstrated an individual feeding specificity. In contrast, the proportions of crayfish and frogs in the diets of individual American minks was positively correlated with the abundance of these alternative prey in the habitats. This suggests an opportunistic feature in consuming of crayfish and frogs by the naturalized mink. For the European mink there was a positive correlation between the proportion of frogs and crayfish in the individual diets and the abundance of these prey in the habitats, but there was no such correlation with abundance of small mammals. The results suggest that the native mink is reluctant to prey small mammals and its opportunistic feature of feeding on crayfish and frogs. Interspecific and intraspecific food niche overlaps in minks at an individual level was estimated. Fairly large variation of the dietary similarity between the individual minks was revealed. Resource competition between the European mink and the naturalized American mink on population and individual levels is discussed.
Article
Changes in spatial structure of the native riparian mustelid guild including the European mink Mustela lutreola, otter Lutra lutra, polecat M. putorius and stoat M. erminea in connection with the expansion of the American mink M. vison were analysed on the basis of a radiotracking and snowtracking study in the upper reaches of the Lovat river, NE Belarus. Four main questions were investigated: (1) how does habitat selection differ between the native mustelids in the absence of American mink? (2) does habitat use change following the arrival of American mink and, if so, how? (3) does habitat selection differ between the two mink species? (4) how does European mink density before American mink arrival compare with American mink densities after the disappearance of European mink? Before American mink naturalization, European mink density was highest at small rivers and brooks, otter density was highest at larger rivers, polecats were found to inhabit all types of river banks and shores at a similar density. No changes in otter habitat use were found after the American mink expansion. Gradually, during four years of the American mink expansion, European mink became rare at small rivers. However, at brooks used less frequently by American mink there was little change in European mink density. Radiotracking data showed that American mink drive European mink away from rivers. European mink are still found at brooks, however, such small streams are used more frequently by European mink males than by females, because there is not enough food to rear a litter. Following the American mink expansion, the polecat population along the banks and shores was reduced by approximately half. In riparian habitats American mink seems to be a more competitive species than the polecat and as a result, polecat populations tend to decline there. Furthermore, as with European mink, polecat females are at an even greater competitive disadvantage due to their smaller body size. The most important difference in habitat selection of the native mink and naturalized mink is that the European mink inhabited banks and shores and usually stayed close to aquatic ecosystems, whereas the American mink fairly frequently inhabited marshes, pools and even dry forest.
Article
Body sizes of European mink (Mustela lutreola L.), polecat (M. putorius L.) and American mink (M. vison Schreber) were studied over a 10-year period in an area of north-eastern Belarus, before and after the invasion by American mink, and data are presented on interspecific interactions. On arrival in the study area American mink males were larger than males of European mink and polecat, and American mink females were larger than females of the other species. After arrival of the American mink its mean body size decreased, whilst the resident male and female European mink and female polecat increased as measured in absolute mass, length and relative mass. The observations suggest a strong character convergence most plausibly explained as a response to the invading exotic by the residents as well as in the invading species itself, whilst a divergence had been expected. There was no evidence to show whether these differences were genetically based. The body size data are consistent with the hypothesis that European mink, and to a lesser extent polecat, are responding to direct aggression from American mink (rather than merely competing for resources), with the smaller individual European mink being more likely to disappear first. We provide direct evidence for the aggressive nature of inter-specific relations from observations using radio-tracking: all observed inter-specific interactions were aggressive, significantly more so than intraspecific encounters, causing the European mink to flee, and several left the study area altogether. Implications for niche theory and for conservation management are discussed.
Chapter
Many mammals, such as otters, live in close association with rivers and streams, feeding in them, or using them as a place of safety or means of escape from predators. The distinct adaptations that riparian mammals have evolved in order to live in these environments also handicap them for living elsewhere. They are therefore threatened by alterations to their environment. In recent years our rivers have become highly polluted, and with bankside modifications for agriculture and forestry, enhanced or decreased water flow, and use for recreation, they become less and less suitable for these highly specialized animals. This 1998 book looks at the habitat utilization, adaptation, feeding ecology and conservation status of a range of riparian mammals, and will give insights into the problems facing these fascinating animals, and how they might be overcome.
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During a period in the 1980s when both European mink Mustela lutreola and American mink M. vison were present in Estonia, their food was significantly different. European mink ate a greater proportion of fish and crustaceans, whereas American mink took relatively more mammals and frogs. This was probably related to a difference in habitat selection. After the disappearance of the European mink, the diet of the American mink in our main study area was similar to that of the European in the same area previously. Two alternative hypotheses are presented for the mechanisms which led to the replacement of European mink by the American species: (i) the two species have a different niche, and the American mink could replace the European mink after the latter had disappeared for unrelated reasons, or (ii) the American mink aggressively ousted the European mink, a process starting in the American mink's preferred habitat (slow flowing rivers). At present there are insufficient data to reject either of these scenarios.
Article
Changes in spatial structure of the native riparian mustelid guild including the European mink Mustela lutreola, otter Lutra lutra, polecat M. putorius and stoat M. erminea in connection with the expansion of the American mink M. vison were analysed on the basis of a radiotracking and snowtracking study in the upper reaches of the Lovat river, NE Belarus. Four main questions were investigated: (1) how does habitat selection differ between the native mustelids in the absence of American mink? (2) does habitat use change following the arrival of American mink and, if so, how? (3) does habitat selection differ between the two mink species? (4) how does European mink density before American mink arrival compare with American mink densities after the disappearance of European mink? Before American mink naturalization, European mink density was highest at small rivers and brooks, otter density was highest at larger rivers, polecats were found to inhabit all types of river banks and shores at a similar density. No changes in otter habitat use were found after the American mink expansion. Gradually, during four years of the American mink expansion, European mink became rare at small rivers. However, at brooks used less frequently by American mink there was little change in European mink density. Radiotracking data showed that American mink drive European mink away from rivers. European mink are still found at brooks, however, such small streams arc used more frequently by European mink males than by females, because there is not enough food to rear a litter. Following the American mink expansion, the polecat population along the banks and shores was reduced by approximately half. In riparian habitats American mink seems to be a more competitive species than the polecat and as a result, polecat populations tend to decline there. Furthermore, as with European mink, polecat females are at an even greater competitive disadvantage due to their smaller body size. The most important difference in habitat selection of the native mink and naturalized mink is that the European mink inhabited banks and shores and usually stayed close to aquatic ecosystems, whereas the American mink fairly frequently inhabited marshes, pools and even dry forest.
Article
During a period in the 1980s when both European mink Mustela lutreola and American mink M. vison were present in Estonia, their food was significantly different. European mink ate a greater proportion of fish and crustaceans, whereas American mink took relatively more mammals and frogs. This was probably related to a difference in habitat selection. After the disappearance of the European mink, the diet of the American mink in our main study area was similar to that of the European in the same area previously. Two alternative hypotheses are presented for the mechanisms which led to the replacement of European mink by the American species: (i) the two species have a different niche, and the American mink could replace the European mink after the latter had disappeared for unrelated reasons, or (ii) the American mink aggressively ousted the European mink, a process starting in the American mink's preferred habitat (slow flowing rivers). At present there are insufficient data to reject either of these scenarios.
Article
Body sizes of European mink (Mustela lutreola L.), polecat (M. putorius L.) and American mink (M. vison Schreber) were studied over a 10-year period in an area of north-eastern Belarus, before and after the invasion by American mink, and data are presented on interspecific interactions. On arrival in the study area American mink males were larger than males of European mink and polecat, and American mink females were larger than females of the other species. After arrival of the American mink its mean body size decreased, whilst the resident male and female European mink and female polecat increased as measured in absolute mass, length and relative mass. The observations suggest a strong character convergence most plausibly explained as a response to the invading exotic by the residents as well as in the invading species itself, whilst a divergence had been expected. There was no evidence to show whether these differences were genetically based. The body size data are consistent with the hypothesis that European mink, and to a lesser extent polecat, are responding to direct aggression from American mink (rather than merely competing for resources), with the smaller individual European mink being more likely to disappear first. We provide direct evidence for the aggressive nature of inter-specific relations from observations using radio-tracking: all observed inter-specific interactions were aggressive, significantly more so than intraspecific encounters, causing the European mink to flee, and several left the study area altogether. Implications for niche theory and for conservation management are discussed.
Article
In the U.K. the impact of introduced American mink Mustela vison, on water voles Arvicola terrestris, may be exacerbated by habitat loss and fragmentation. Pristine wetlands in Belarus, which American mink invaded in the early 1990s, provide a three-pronged opportunity to test this hypothesis. First, we examine the evidence that, even in the unmanaged wetlands of our Belarussian study site, American mink have reduced water vole populations. Second, we ask whether habitat size, type and isolation mitigate the impact of American mink predation. Thirdly, we explore whether water voles are at greater risk of predation from American than European mink because of their patterns of habitat use. Following the invasion of American mink, water voles were most abundant in small, still-water sites, far from river banks, while American mink were most active in large, running-water sites. Small mammal remains were found in a higher percentage of American than European mink scats, and of these, more were water vole in American mink scats. The occurrence of water voles in scats of both mink species declined after the American mink invaded and established. Our results provide at least circumstantial evidence that American mink limit water vole populations even in unmanaged wetland eco-systems, and that they have a greater impact than their European congener at least partly because they make greater use of isolated marshes. Although by no means providing complete protection, the configuration and dispersion of available habitat mitigated the impact of American mink on water voles. This raises the possibility that habitat restoration, especially through the establishment of isolated enclaves, could help reduce the effect of American mink in the U.K. These observations are of broader interest in the context of assessing the effect of multiple pressures on vulnerable species.
Article
It is suspected that feral American mink, an introduced predator in Europe, have seriously affected local densities of birds breeding in archipelagos and coastal areas. We studied the effects of mink removal on breeding densities of waterfowl in two manipulation and two control areas in the outer archipelago of SW Finland, Baltic Sea. The study was conducted in two phases: during 1992–2001 a total of 98 mink was removed from 60 islands and islets (total area 72 km2) whereas on 37 islands and islets (35 km2) mink was not removed. Additional mink removal and control areas were established during 1998–2001 to replicate the experiment. The breeding densities of the shelduck, tufted duck and the velvet scoter increased as a response to mink removal, while in the control areas their populations remained unchanged. The breeding densities of mallards increased during the first 7 yr of mink removal, but a steep decrease in the last study year resulted in a statistically non-significant overall increase. The species with low breeding densities (the gadwall, northern shoveler, pintail and the red-breasted merganser) increased as well. In contrast, the populations of large waterfowl species, the mute swan, greylag goose, common eider and the goosander, did not show obvious increases in breeding densities after mink removal. We conclude that feral mink may locally limit the breeding densities of some smaller waterfowl species and thus reduce the diversity of the waterfowl community in the outer archipelago.
Article
The duration of activity bouts by pine martens Martes martes was studied in the pristine deciduous forests in Białowieża National Park (north-eastern Poland). From 1991 to 1996, 14 martens were monitored by radio-tracking throughout 5823 h. On average, male martens were active for 9 h/day and females for 8.5 h/day. The duration of the martens' diel activity varied greatly among bimonthly periods (from 2.8 h/day in February–March to 12 h/day in June–July). Martens decreased their activity from 13 h/day on warm days to 2.5 h/day on cooler days. In the winter months, when martens curtailed their activity, they often hunted larger prey or scavenged ungulate carcasses. On average, 69% of the martens' active time was during the night. The number of activity bouts per day varied from one to six (mean 2.6) and increased with growing ambient temperature. Activity bouts of males were significantly longer (4 h, on average) than those of females (3 h) and were not related to ambient temperature. The duration of short inactive bouts increased in the cold season and inactivity lasted longer in females than in males.
Article
1. The effect of mink predation on water birds during the breeding season was studied between March and September 1996 in a 33-km long stretch of the upper Thames river, England. 2. Mink presence significantly affected the density of breeding coots and the number of chicks hatched per pair of coots, as well as the average number of nests per pair of moorhens and the percentage of moorhen clutches hatched. 3. Mink diet during the birds’ breeding season (March–September) was studied through scat analysis. Ralliformes (coots or moorhens) represented 10% of the ingested biomass and were the fourth prey in importance after rabbits (45%), fish (25%) and small mammals (14%). Mink obtained 11% of their energy requirements from coots and moorhens. 4. Impact of predation by mink during the bird breeding season was moderate to high for moorhens (16–27% of adults and 46–79% of broods) and high for coots (30–51% of adults and 50–86% of broods). 5. Although moorhens seem well adapted to withstand predation by mink, nesting behaviour by coots make them very vulnerable to mink predation. We hypothesize that the persistence of coot populations in areas with high mink density requires immigration from surrounding populations with lower mink impact.
Article
An idea that took a century to be born has implications in ecology, economics, and genetics.
The continuing decline of the European mink Mustela lutreola: evidence for the intraguild aggression hypothesis Behaviour and ecology of riparian mammals
  • T Macdonald Dw
  • H Kruuk
  • V Sidorovich
  • Vv
T, Macdonald DW, Kruuk H, Sidorovich V, Rozhnov VV (1998a) The continuing decline of the European mink Mustela lutreola: evidence for the intraguild aggression hypothesis. In: Dunstone N, Gorman M (eds) Behaviour and ecology of riparian mammals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 297–324
The mink and the Water vole Analyses for conservation. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and the Environment Agency The impact of American mink Mustela vison and European mink M. lutreola on water voles Arvicola terrestris in Belarus
  • D R Strachan
D, Strachan R (1999) The mink and the Water vole. Analyses for conservation. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and the Environment Agency, Oxford Macdonald DW, Sidorovich VE, Anisimova EI, Sidorovich NV, Johnson PJ (2002) The impact of American mink Mustela vison and European mink M. lutreola on water voles Arvicola terrestris in Belarus. Ecography 25:295– 302
Diet of European mink (Mustela lutreola L., 1761) in Northern Spain The structure of lizard communities