, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 1149-1161
Date: 29 Sep 2007

Population genetic structure and distribution of introduced American mink (Mustela vison) in Spain, based on microsatellite variation

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The population genetic structure of an invasive species in Spain, the American mink (Mustela vison), was investigated using microsatellite DNA markers. This semi-aquatic carnivore, originating from North America, was imported into Europe for fur farming since the beginning of the 20th century. Due to massive escapes, farm damages, deliberate releases and/or accidents, feral mink populations were established in the aquatic ecosystems of many European countries, including Spain. We genotyped 155 American mink originating from the Spanish regions Basque Country, Catalonia, Castilla-Leon, Aragon, Valencia and Galicia using 10 polymorphic microsatellite loci to highlight population genetic structure, distribution and dispersal. M. vison populations in Spain appear differentiated and not yet connected by gene flow. Bayesian clustering analyses and spatial analyses of molecular variance detected four inferred clusters, overall coinciding with the sampled geographical localities. Preliminary testing shows moderate to large estimated effective population sizes. Molecular analyses result useful to provide baseline data for further research on the evolution of invasive mink populations, as well as support local management strategies and indirectly benefit the conservation of threatened species in Spain, such as the endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola), and the polecat (Mustela putorius), which share the habitat with the American mink.

This paper is dedicated to the memory of Xavier Domingo-Roura.