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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Population viability analysis of American mink (Neovison vison) escaped from Danish mink farms


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 6, p. 2530-2541
    Received: Oct 29, 2012
    Accepted: Feb 15, 2013
    Published: November 25, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. C. Pertoldi 21,
  2. S. Rødjajn,
  3. A. Zalewski§,
  4. D. Demontis,
  5. V. Loeschcke and
  6. A. Kjærsgaard‡#
  1. Aalborg University, Department 18/Section of Environmental Engineering Sohngårdsholmsvej 57, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark
    Aalborg Zoo, Mølleparkvej 63, 9000 Aalborg Denmark
    Department of Biosciences, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
    Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, 17-230 Białowieża, Poland
    Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland


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, 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 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. 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.

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