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Mammalian Biology

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 177–188 | Cite as

Food habits of the American mink Mustela vison in the Mazurian Lakeland, Northeastern Poland

  • Marcin BrzezińskiEmail author
Original Investigation

Abstract

Food habits of the American mink Mustela vison were studied based on the analysis of 2364 scat samples, collected at three lakes in Northeastern Poland. The mink preyed on a wide range of prey, but two types of prey, amphibians and fish, dominated in the diet of the mink during all the seasons. Frogs, and first and foremost, the common frog Rana temporaria, were hunted by the mink, mainly from the late autumn until the early spring, and comprised up to 83.9% of the prey biomass (the multiannual average for November–December at the Majcz Wielki Lake). The most frequently eaten fish were cyprinids and percids. Seasonality of fish consumption by mink was not as well pronounced as in the case of amphibians. At the first two lakes, fish were hunted mainly in the winter and in the early spring, whereas at the third lake in the summer. The highest multiannual average share of fish in the diet of the mink was recorded in March–April at Lake Tuchlin (69.2% of the prey biomass). Crayfish, which were recorded in the diet mainly in the late spring and in the summer, comprised up to 59.6% of the prey biomass for May–June at the Majcz Wielki Lake. Birds, mammals and insects were supplementary food for the mink. During the breeding season, mink predation on waterfowl and their broods was correlated with the abundance of crested grebe Podiceps cristatus and coot Fulica atra nests in the area. The diet of individual mink varied considerably and the share of birds in the diet of the mink was related to the distance from individual mink dens to the colonies of waterfowl. In May–June, adult birds, chicks and eggs comprised up to 73.6% of the prey biomass of a female mink that inhabited a den located 100m from the colony’s edge. At all three lakes, the diet of the mink was the most diverse in the late spring and in the summer. In May–August, the values of the mink food niche breadths were about twice those noted in winter months.

Keywords

Mustelidae Diet variation Food niche Predation Lake habitats 

Nahrung des Amerikanischen Nerzes Mustela vison an der Masurischen Seenplatte, Nordosten Polen

Zusammenfassung

Die Zusammensetzung der Nahrung des Amerikanischen Nerzes wurde durch Kotanalysen in der Umgebung von drei Seen im Nordosten von Polen untersucht. Die Nerze verzehrten verschiedenartige Nahrung und zu allen Jahreszeiten Amphibien und Fische. Von Herbst bis Frühling verzehrten sie bis zu 84% Frösche und dabei besonders den Grasfrosch Rana temporaria. Bezüglich der Fische wurden Cyprinidae und Barsche am häufigsten gefressen. Die jahreszeitliche Variabilität des Amphibien- und Fischanteils der Nahrung war gering. Fische wurden besonders im Winter und im Frühling an zwei Seen und im Sommer am dritten See verzehrt. Der höchste Fischanteil mit 69% wurde in der Periode von März bis April festgestellt. Insekten, Vögel und Säugetiere waren Nahrungsergänzung. Der Vogelanteil wurde mit der Nestermenge von Haubentauchern und Blässhühnern korreliert. Die Nahrungsstruktur eines Tiers war in dieser Zeit unterschiedlich und hing von der Entfernung zwischen Nesthöhlen und Wasservögelnestern ab. Der Vogelanteil in der Nahrung eines Weibchens stieg bis auf 74% zwischen Mai und Juni, wenn die Nerzhöhle weniger als 100m entfernt war. Die Nahrung variierte am meisten von Frühling und Sommer. Das Nahrungsspektrum des Nerzes war von Mai bis August zweimal größer als im Winter. Im Winter war das Spektrum am geringsten.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EcologyUniversity of WarsawWarszawaPoland

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