Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 725–743 | Cite as

Abundance and habitat preferences of the southernmost population of mink: implications for managing a recent island invasion

  • Elke SchüttlerEmail author
  • José Tomás Ibarra
  • Bernd Gruber
  • Ricardo Rozzi
  • Kurt Jax
Original Paper


Since 2001 invasive American mink has been known to populate Navarino Island, an island located in the pristine wilderness of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, Chile, lacking native carnivorous mammals. As requested by scientists and managers, our study aims at understanding the population ecology of mink in order to respond to conservation concerns. We studied the abundance of mink in different semi-aquatic habitats using live trapping (n = 1,320 trap nights) and sign surveys (n = 68 sites). With generalized linear models we evaluated mink abundance in relation to small-scale habitat features including habitats engineered by invasive beavers (Castor canadensis). Mink have colonized the entire island and signs were found in 79% of the surveys in all types of semi-aquatic habitats. Yet, relative population abundance (0.75 mink/km of coastline) was still below densities measured in other invaded or native areas. The habitat model accuracies indicated that mink were generally less specific in habitat use, probably due to the missing limitations normally imposed by predators or competitors. The selected models predicted that mink prefer to use shrubland instead of open habitat, coastal areas with heterogeneous shores instead of flat beaches, and interestingly, that mink avoid habitats strongly modified by beavers. Our results indicate need for immediate mink control on Navarino Island. For this future management we suggest that rocky coastal shores should be considered as priority sites deserving special conservation efforts. Further research is needed with respect to the immigration of mink from adjacent islands and to examine facilitating or hampering relationships between the different invasive species present, especially if integrative management is sought.


Capture-mark-recapture Castor canadensis Chile Exotic species Management Neovison vison Population size Sign surveys Trapping Wetlands 



Generalized linear models


Principal component analysis



We thank all the field assistants and in particular Melisa Gañan, José Llaipén, Julia and Germán Gonzáles, and Francesca Pischedda. We are grateful to Fidel and Patricio Quelín for their hospitality during field work. Reinhard Klenke supported our project with scientific advice. We thank Tina Heger, who made valuable comments on the manuscript. We also appreciate the advice of two anonymous reviewers to improve an earlier version of this paper. This research was conducted under trapping permit N° 1,192 (16 March 2005) issued by the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG). Concar S.A. kindly sponsored the fish bait for our traps. Financial support was provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Chilean Millennium Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity Contract (ICM, PO2-051-F), the Magallanes University, the Omora Foundation, and by the German-Chilean Research Project BIOKONCHIL funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (FKZ 01LM0208).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elke Schüttler
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • José Tomás Ibarra
    • 2
    • 4
  • Bernd Gruber
    • 5
  • Ricardo Rozzi
    • 2
    • 6
  • Kurt Jax
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Conservation BiologyUFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Omora Ethnobotanical Park (IEB-Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity Universidad de Magallanes, and Omora Foundation)Puerto Williams, Antarctic ProvinceChile
  3. 3.Lehrstuhl für LandschaftsökologieTechnische Universität München-WeihenstephanFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Fauna Australis Wildlife Laboratory, Natural Resources Program, School of Agriculture and Forestry SciencesPontifica Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  5. 5.Department of Computational Landscape EcologyUFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  6. 6.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA

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