Genetic diversity of ranch and feral American mink (Neovison vison Schreber, 1777) in Poland in relation to the natural population of the species

Beata Horecka


In Poland, the number of feral mink (Neovison vison) and the size of the fur-farming industry are growing. There is a concern that the gene pool of the wild living mink is being infiltrated by that of ranch animals. Three populations were analyzed: Polish ranch mink, feral animals from Poland, and, they were for the first time in Poland, compared with wild individuals from North America. The breeding history of the species and the main ways of introducing the American mink into new areas on different continents were considered. The final research included analysis of the polymorphism of 12 Mustelidae-specific microsatellite loci. It showed a similar level of genetic diversity in all the investigated populations. The research revealed the existence of geographically-specific subpopulations of feral mink in Poland, characterized by different origins, and indicated a small degree of introgression between Polish ranch and wild living populations in the past although the assignment simulation makes it clear that they are genetically distinct groups. The results are in accordance with previously reported models of colonization of Poland by this species and help to explain the influence of anthropogenic factors on the current status of this invasive species. Mixing of two separate genetic pools from the native range in Poland is a newly identified factor, shaping the genetic structure of ranch and feral populations of Neovison vison.


microsatellites; ranch mink; invasive species; American mink; Neovison vison

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