Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The American mink (Neovison vison) is a competent host for native European parasites.

Abstract

The American mink (Neovison vison) is a mustelid native to North America that was introduced in Europe and the former USSR for fur farming. Throughout the last century, accidental or deliberate escapes of mink from farms caused the establishment of stable feral populations. In fact, the American mink is considered an invasive alien species in 28 European countries. The present study evaluates the gastrointestinal and cardiopulmonary helminth fauna of the American mink in Galicia (NW Spain) to understand its role as a potential reservoir for parasites affecting other autochthonous mustelids. In the period 2008-2014, fifty American mink (35 males and 15 females) of different ages (22 immature and 28 adults) from the provinces of Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra were captured and sacrificed. Eight parasite species were found (6 nematodes and 2 trematodes) with the following prevalences: Molineus patens (68%), Aonchotheca putorii (54%), Crenosoma melesi (10%), Aonchotheca annulosa (8%), Angiostrongylus daskalovi (6%), Aelurostrongylus spp. (2%), Troglotrema acutum (2%) and an unidentified trematode (2%). Eighty-two per cent of the mink harboured helminths, including 15 animals (30%) infected by only one parasite species, 19 (38%) by two species, 5 (10%) by three species and 2 mink (4%) by four species. All helminth species identified are native to European mustelids. Statistical models were used to evaluate if animal characteristics (age, sex and weight), date and capture area influenced the prevalence, intensity or parasite richness. Statistical differences were detected only in models for intensity of M. patens, A. putorii and C. melesi. This is the first report of Angiostrongylus daskalovi, a cardiopulmonary nematode, and A. annulosa, a gastrointestinal nematode specific of rodents, in American mink. Moreover, although the fluke T. acutum has already been cited in American mink, to our knowledge, the present study represents the first report of this trematode in the lung.