Chinese Science Bulletin, Volume 62, Issue 4: 279-288(2017) https://doi.org/10.1360/N972016-00801

Invasion and potential impacts of the first alien carnivore in China: American minks (Neovison vison) in Altai region, Xinjiang

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  • ReceivedJul 19, 2016
  • AcceptedSep 22, 2016
  • PublishedDec 7, 2016


American minks (Neovison vison), which cause great impacts on local small and median sized animals through direct predation and diseases tramission, had been characterized as an invasive species worldwide. As well-known fur animals, American minks were introduced to Europe in early 20th century, and to China in mid-20th century. American minks spread nearly entire Europe soon after escaping from fur farms in European countries, and they had already established naturalized population in northern Altai Mountain in Russia for years. Northern Altai Mountain is one of the main distribution areas of American minks in Russia. In recent years, American minks were reported in southern Altai mountains (Altai region, or Chinese Altai) in Xinjiang, China. American minks occurred in forest parks and national nature reserves in Altai region. Earlier records in China were misidentified as European minks or both of them. Based on field survey and photo identification, we confirmed that all these records were belong to American minks.

Although American minks had been imported to China for over half a century, now they were found in wild in north-western China instead of eastern China, where had more mink farms. Thus American minks found in Chinese Altai may be border-crossing invaders. Through field survey and investigation, American minks were not rare in the forest parks and nature reserves of Chinese Altai region, thus we suggested that American mink had already established populations in China.

We discussed the potential impacts of American minks invasion in China through habitat simulation, potential prey and competing species, and wildlife diseases. We discussed the current status of otters in China, which had similar niches to minks. Using MaxEnt model for habitats simulation at global scales, we predicted climate-suitable areas for American minks. We find that coastal regions of North America, south tip of South America, Europe, Eastern Asia, North Africa, South Eastern Australia and New Zealand harbor highly suitable habitats of American minks. All these coastal areas should be exceptionally precautious for live minks transport.

In addition, mountains of Central Asia are the only inland highly suitable habitats of American minks. Central Asia harbors plentiful endemic fishes, and should be precautious for American minks invasion. In China, Chinese Altai and middle to lower reaches of Yangtze River are highly suitable habitats for American minks, where otters are almost disappeared. As China’s first alien carnivore, American minks will impose great predation pressures on endemic waterfowls and fishes, and will have impact on China’s endangered otters and other mustelids.

All three major minks epidemic diseases: canine distemper, Aleutian disease and mink viral enteritis had already have outbreak records in Chinese mink farms, and theses diseases had been proven to transmit to wildlife. In addition, China the has largest mink farming industry of the world. Therefore, besides controlling border-crossing invasion, eco-security assessments should be strengthened in domestic mink farms.

Funded by



阿勒泰林业局初红军博士在野外工作时给予了大力支持; 中国科学院动物研究所张履冰、李立立、陈代强提供了帮助, 特此致谢.



表S1 北美水貂和水獭分布记录

表S2 MaxEnt模拟中用到的19种WorldClim环境因子

表S3 拟受北美水貂影响的我国本土脊椎动物名录

图S1 北美水貂分布区模拟的AUC曲线检验

图S2 环境因子对北美水貂分布作用的Jacknife刀切法评价

本文以上补充材料见网络版csb.scichina.com. 补充材料为作者提供的原始数据, 作者对其学术质量和内容负责.


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