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Variable responses of waterfowl breeding populations to long-term removal of introduced American mink

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It is suspected that feral American mink, an introduced predator in Europe, have seriously affected local densities of birds breeding in archipelagos and coastal areas. We studied the effects of mink removal on breeding densities of waterfowl in two manipulation and two control areas in the outer archipelago of SW Finland, Baltic Sea. The study was conducted in two phases: during 1992–2001 a total of 98 mink was removed from 60 islands and islets (total area 72 km2) whereas on 37 islands and islets (35 km2) mink was not removed. Additional mink removal and control areas were established during 1998–2001 to replicate the experiment. The breeding densities of the shelduck, tufted duck and the velvet scoter increased as a response to mink removal, while in the control areas their populations remained unchanged. The breeding densities of mallards increased during the first 7 yr of mink removal, but a steep decrease in the last study year resulted in a statistically non-significant overall increase. The species with low breeding densities (the gadwall, northern shoveler, pintail and the red-breasted merganser) increased as well. In contrast, the populations of large waterfowl species, the mute swan, greylag goose, common eider and the goosander, did not show obvious increases in breeding densities after mink removal. We conclude that feral mink may locally limit the breeding densities of some smaller waterfowl species and thus reduce the diversity of the waterfowl community in the outer archipelago.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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