Ecological traps for large-scale invasive species control: Predicting settling rules by recolonising American mink post-culling

Yolanda Melero, Thomas Cornulier, Matthew K Oliver, Xavier Lambin

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Abstract

Management programmes seeking to reduce the density of invasive species must overcome compensatory processes, such as recolonisation by dispersers from non- or partially controlled areas. However, the scale and drivers of dispersal in such contexts are poorly known.

We investigated the dispersal patterns of American mink re-invading 20,000 km2 of their non-native range during a culling programme led by citizen conservationists. Using multinomial models, we estimated the contributions of density dependence, proxies for patch quality and distance from the natal patch on mink settlement.

Seventy-seven per cent of mink dispersed and settled in non-natal patches. Dispersal distances were large with settlement probabilities only reduced by half at c. 60 km, and 20% of mink dispersing >80 km.

Females were more attracted to high-quality patches, mostly found at low altitudes. Males favoured patches with intermediate current densities and consistently high quality.

Synthesis and applications. We predicted post-culling recolonisation by a non-native mobile carnivore over a large spatial scale by using information on relative densities obtained during management interventions, largely carried out by citizen conservationists. This was possible through continued monitoring of the area designed to feed into the adaptive management process of the control project. High mink mobility dictates management should take place on very large spatial scales to minimise re-invasion from uncontrolled areas. Our research shows both males and females are attracted to patches with previously consistent occupation, which provides a degree of predictability to patterns of recolonisation. Targeting control to patches that are attractive to immigrant mink requires knowledge of current mink density. Creating so-called ecological traps in the face of ongoing immigration from peripheral areas provides a promising tool to effectively control mobile invasive species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1769-1779
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Volume55
Issue number4
Early online date27 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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culling
recolonization
invasive species
adaptive management
density dependence
carnivore
density current
immigration
targeting
occupation
monitoring
programme
citizen

Keywords

  • invasive species
  • dispersal
  • mink
  • recolonisation
  • immigration
  • adaptive management
  • ecological traps

Cite this

Ecological traps for large-scale invasive species control : Predicting settling rules by recolonising American mink post-culling. / Melero, Yolanda; Cornulier, Thomas; Oliver, Matthew K; Lambin, Xavier.

In: Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 55, No. 4, 07.2018, p. 1769-1779.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Management programmes seeking to reduce the density of invasive species must overcome compensatory processes, such as recolonisation by dispersers from non- or partially controlled areas. However, the scale and drivers of dispersal in such contexts are poorly known.We investigated the dispersal patterns of American mink re-invading 20,000 km2 of their non-native range during a culling programme led by citizen conservationists. Using multinomial models, we estimated the contributions of density dependence, proxies for patch quality and distance from the natal patch on mink settlement.Seventy-seven per cent of mink dispersed and settled in non-natal patches. Dispersal distances were large with settlement probabilities only reduced by half at c. 60 km, and 20{\%} of mink dispersing >80 km.Females were more attracted to high-quality patches, mostly found at low altitudes. Males favoured patches with intermediate current densities and consistently high quality.Synthesis and applications. We predicted post-culling recolonisation by a non-native mobile carnivore over a large spatial scale by using information on relative densities obtained during management interventions, largely carried out by citizen conservationists. This was possible through continued monitoring of the area designed to feed into the adaptive management process of the control project. High mink mobility dictates management should take place on very large spatial scales to minimise re-invasion from uncontrolled areas. Our research shows both males and females are attracted to patches with previously consistent occupation, which provides a degree of predictability to patterns of recolonisation. Targeting control to patches that are attractive to immigrant mink requires knowledge of current mink density. Creating so-called ecological traps in the face of ongoing immigration from peripheral areas provides a promising tool to effectively control mobile invasive species.",
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AU - Lambin, Xavier

N1 - Y. M. was funded by Marie Curie FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IEF 300288-Project Depensation, XL and MO by NERC Grant NE/J01396X/1. We thank the Scottish Mink Initiative, staff funders including Scottish Natural Heritage and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, all volunteers and the two reviewers.

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