Niche Expansion of an Invasive Predator (Neovison vison), Prey Response, and Facilitative Interactions with Other Invasive Mammals at the Southern End of the Americas: Conservation Challenges and Potential Solutions
Description: The Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve is located at the southern tip of South America. This large archipelago is considered one of the last pristine areas left on the world. Despite it being an unpopulated area with most of the native forest cover intact, it has not been exempt from biological invasions, one of the major drivers of biodiversity loss. Three species that naturally interact in their native range in North America – American beavers (Castor canadensis), muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus), and American mink (Neovison vison) – were independently introduced in this remote region. In my dissertation, I investigated (i) the hypothesis of niche expansion in the invasive mink population on Navarino Island towards terrestrial habitats; (ii) potential mink impact on breeding success of forest-bird populations; (iii) habitat selection of small-rodent species and their perception on the mink's novel predation risk; and (iv) the dynamics of multiple-species invasions under the hypothesis of an invasional meltdown. Additionally, I worked within the framework of environmental philosophy. I provide an example of combining ecological and cultural dimensions within the International Long-Term Ecological Research network to disentangle the ethical dilemmas that surround the management of invasive species. I finally proposed a management plan based on the idea of multiple invasive species management, discussing potential solutions to overcome the challenges that the control of invasive species represent and to more effectively protect the biological integrity of the native ecosystems.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Crego, Ramiro Daniel