Biodiversity & Conservation

, 14:251 | Cite as

Genetic neighbourhood and effective population size in the endangered European mink Mustela lutreola

  • T. Lodé
  • D. Peltier


Genetic neighbourhood and effective population size (N e) are critical factors when determining the potential survival of threatened species. Carnivores have intrinsically small effective numbers, because, as top predators, they show low densities. The European mink, Mustela lutreola, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world and has suffered continual decline and local extinctions. The genetic neighbourhood, area within which adults could randomly mate, averaged N a = 31.7 km diameter, allowing that population size within the neighbourhood area only ranged from N b = 6.1 to 22.8 animals. Although the population size was assessed in one of the main mink populations in the world, this neighbourhood size is far below the values regarded as critical in literature. However, in contrast with recent propositions, the ratio N e /N only ranged between 0.09 and 0.19, estimates close to the average recognised by Frankham [(1995) Genetic Research 66: 95–107] for wildlife populations. In the context of the challenge to conserve this endangered carnivore, the studied neighbourhood provided crucial information suggesting both a low neighbourhood size and severe disturbance of breeding exchanges, emphasising the dramatically threatened status of the European mink.

Key words

Effective size Endangered species European mink Mustela lutreola Neighbourhood 



effective population size


genetic neighbourhood area


population size within the genetic neighbourhood area


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Écologie Animale, Faculté des SciencesUniversiteé d’AngersAngersFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de génétique, Faculté des SciencesUniversité d’AngersAngersFrance

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