European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 283–294 | Cite as

Range expansion and prey use of American mink in Argentinean Patagonia: dilemmas for conservation

  • Laura FasolaEmail author
  • Juan Muzio
  • Claudio Chehébar
  • Marcelo Cassini
  • David W. Macdonald
Original Paper


Following the establishment of American mink farms outside North America, the species has successfully invaded Europe and South America, and in some places, their presence demonstrably threatens native biodiversity. We surveyed for mink signs along the Andean Patagonian forest in Argentina from 38°52′ S to 54°52′ S, revealing that their range has now expanded to span 800 km of contiguous occupation on the continent including several types of wetlands and has also colonised Tierra del Fuego Island. Rate of expansion was estimated using two methodologies and varied between 5.53 and 9.00 km/year (linear method, large-scale spread) and 4.86 km/year (within a more restricted area, grid method). Diet throughout the region fitted the generalist pattern described for mink elsewhere. Native small mammals were the most frequently consumed category. Crustaceans (patchily distributed in the region) occurred in the diet in proportion to their availability (r s=0.961, p<0.001), but that of waterfowl did not (r s=0.178, p=0.713). Diet was evaluated at one lake throughout a year, revealing that consumption of crustaceans fell in the cold months when bird abundance increased. Based on published work on the impact of American mink as an introduced species in Patagonia and elsewhere, together with our own survey, we discuss the implications of this invasion for biodiversity conservation in Argentinean Patagonia and the associated dilemmas for management policy.


American mink Diet Expansion rate Introduced species Neovison vison Patagonia 



Gerardo Porro trained fieldworkers for signs identification and conduct fieldwork within Nahuel Huapi National Park. Marcelo Bello and Leonardo R. Leggieri collaborated during the fieldwork. Sandra Almada Chavez, Adriana Gallur, María Gottelli and Patricia Livingston collaborated with diet identification. Leonardo Di Franco supervised the GIS analysis, and PRODITEL provided the GIS software. Victor Cussac was the Co-supervisor of the Undergraduate Thesis of Juan Muzio. We thank Lauren Harrington, Christopher B. Anderson and Alejandro E. J. Valenzuela for advice and helpful comments on previous versions. The study was financed by the Darwin Initiative (UK).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Fasola
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Juan Muzio
    • 2
  • Claudio Chehébar
    • 3
  • Marcelo Cassini
    • 4
  • David W. Macdonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Zoology DepartmentUniversity of OxfordTubneyUK
  2. 2.Universidad Nacional del ComahueSan Carlos de BarilocheArgentina
  3. 3.Delegación Regional Patagonia, Administración de Parques NacionalesSan Carlos de BarilocheArgentina
  4. 4.Grupo de Estudios en Ecología de Mamíferos, Departamento de Ciencias BásicasUniversidad Nacional de LujánLujánArgentina
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Ecología y Conservación de Vida SilvestreConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC)UshuaiaArgentina

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