Some reproductive components of fitness (breeding times, litter size and the proportion of breeding females per year) of two feral populations of American minks in central Spain were investigated by means of direct observation from 2006 to 2010. The effects of prey availability were explored. Mating season was from February to March. Parturition dates did not differ between the two sites and pooled births took place between April (33.3%) and July (2.8%), peaking in May (40.3%). Mean litter size (the number of small cubs following their mother) was 3.43 ± 1.01 cubs (±SD; n = 30) with statistical significant differences between the two study sites. The strong seasonality in births and differences in litter size were related to prey availability (i.e. these are food-limited life-history traits), but in a complex non-linear fashion. A minimum value of prey abundance is necessary to breed. While litter size rises with prey abundance, there is a point where increasing prey did not result in an increase in litter size. Up to 75% of the females in the breeding pool reared cubs each year in both areas, which represents a somewhat high pool of breeding females. Delayed implantation is shorter than a month or does not exist in these populations. Such a short time-span seems to emerge because longer delays would have an important fitness cost to females. The breeding calendar and the litter size were similar to that reported previously from other areas.
- information theory
- invasive species