Long-term data on invaders: when the fox is away, the mink will play
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- Carlsson, N.O.L., Jeschke, J.M., Holmqvist, N. et al. Biol Invasions (2010) 12: 633. doi:10.1007/s10530-009-9470-z
Studies of the effects and population dynamics of invasive species typically cover only short time periods. However, populations of invasive species interact with native species, and these interactions may have strong effects on invaders’ populations and effects over time. We present and analyze long-term data on invasive American mink (Neovison vison), native red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and mountain hare (Lepus timidus) in Sweden. The mink’s population dynamics followed a pattern of logistic growth from the late 1930s to the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, however, the population tripled, then declined sharply. We suggest that the mink’s population tripling was caused by a drastic decline in red fox populations, which caused terrestrial prey to increase. Later recovery of the fox population reversed the trend and caused the mink population’s recent decline. Our study shows that species interactions between native and invasive species, and therefore biotic resistance, can change dramatically over time.