Invasion and eradication of the American mink in the Atlantic Islands National Park (NW Spain): a retrospective analysis

Velando, A., Morán, P., Romero, R., Fernández, J. & Piorno, V. 2016. Invasion and eradication of the American mink in the Atlantic Islands National Park (NW Spain): a retrospective analysis. Biological Invasions, pp.1-15. doi:10.1007/s10530-016-1326-8


Alien predators exert severe effects on island ecosystems, and their eradication from island habitats may therefore be necessary to conserve the native biota. Efforts are being made to eradicate the American mink (Neovison vison) from the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (NW Spain), a protected site inhabited by vulnerable island fauna. We applied a molecular genetic approach to elucidate the source of the invaders and to evaluate the effectiveness of the trapping programe. We collected mink scats in the field and obtained tissue samples from culled mink. Populations of feral mink were known to be present in coastal areas close to the National Park archipelagos in the 1980–1990s. However, the molecular findings suggest that these populations were not the main source of the mink populations that colonized the islands during the 2000s. Recent releases from farms directly on to the islands are a more likely source of these invaders. Genetic analysis suggested that mink reproduced successfully on the islands and were relatively isolated from other mainland populations. The findings also suggest that most of the culled mink were juveniles, probably because it was more difficult to catch adults. Since mink are short-lived animals, it seems that eradication may also be achieved when a large proportion of juveniles are culled in isolated and small populations.

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