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Misleading interpretation of shifting baseline syndrome in the conservation of European mink

Zuberogoitia, Iñigo, Põdra, Madis, Palazón, Santiago, Gómez, Asun, Zabala, Nestor, Zabala, Jabi
Biodiversity and conservation 2016 v.25 no.9 pp. 1795-1800
Mustela lutreola, breeding, captive animals, extinction, humans, population growth, stand structure, France, Spain
The European mink is a critically endangered mustelid with only three declining and isolated populations. Based on particular interpretation of genetic studies, the origin of SW population (France and Spain) and its conservation measures were recently questioned, and considered an example of managed relocation. The four published genetic studies show similar results, revealing a bottleneck structure. The SW population was probably established by very few individuals, which can be explained by dispersal of some-long distance migrants or by human introduction. The historical records evidence a long-distance dispersal capacity of the species and the temporal trend expansion in SW Europe is spatially collated with the idea of an expanding population. On contrast, most support for the introduction hypothesis comes from critics to other hypotheses, while it lacks of structure to stand on its own as hypothesis: no ecological barrier preventing natural expansion identified, no reports or reasons for captivity breeding or translocation programs, and lacks of supporting documents among others. Arguing shifting baseline syndrome in European mink conservation has weak basis and can result perilously misleading for a species in the brink of extinction.