Investigating the origin of American mink (Neovison vison) in Poland: mitochondrial DNA studies of ranch, feral and wild populations

Keywords: American mink, Neovison vison, phylogenetics, invasive species, mink farming


The American mink (Neovison vison), native to North America, is a controversial invasive species in many European countries, including Poland. Mitochondrial DNA data (concatenated MT-CYTB and MT-COI sequences) were used to investigate the genetic diversity of native, introduced, and ranch populations of this species. Phylogenetic analysis revealed two major clades including individuals from the ranch, feral, and wild populations. This supports the theory of occurrence of two mitochondrial lineages in the native range of American mink assigned to eastern and western part of North America. The genetic structure in the invasive range was probably the result of the diverse origins of the released specimens and the rapid expansion and encounters of the introduced populations. Spatial mixing of both North American lineages in Polish feral populations may lead to higher levels of genetic diversity in introduced populations, despite some evidence of a founder effect as one of the main factors influencing their diversity.