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Fournier-Chambrillon C.,Groupe de Recherche et dEtude Pour la Gestion de lEnvironnement | Bifolchi A.,University of Angers | Mazzola-Rossi E.,Groupe de Recherche et dEtude Pour la Gestion de lEnvironnement | Mazzola-Rossi E.,National Veterinary School of Alfort | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2010

Despite the numerous studies carried out on the endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola) for conservation purposes, the reproductive biology of this species is largely unknown. In the wild reproductive parameters such as litter size are difficult to observe, particularly for cryptic species such as mustelids. We compared the reliability of nonstained and stained placental scar counts in farmed American mink (Neovison vison) with known litter sizes and then applied the best methodology to free-ranging related speciesEuropean mink, European polecat (Mustela putorius), and feral invasive American minkfor a comparative study of embryonic litter size in western Europe populations. The staining method allowed us to improve the detection of placental scars and to increase the reliability of the method by reducing the observer effect. Nevertheless, this analysis must be performed by 7 months postpartum, before the regeneration of uterine tissues. In free-ranging animals the mean embryonic litter size, estimated by stained placental scar counts and embryo counts, was significantly lower in European mink compared with polecats and American mink, and in polecats compared with American mink. Small litter sizes in European mink could be a factor limiting population growth rates in the species. Our results constitute a first step toward demographic analyses aimed at modeling the population dynamics of these species. © 2010 American Society of Mammalogists. Source

Mucci N.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Arrendal J.,Uppsala University | Ansorge H.,Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Goerlitz | Bailey M.,Trinity College Dublin | And 36 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2010

Eurasian otter populations strongly declined and partially disappeared due to global and local causes (habitat destruction, water pollution, human persecution) in parts of their continental range. Conservation strategies, based on reintroduction projects or restoration of dispersal corridors, should rely on sound knowledge of the historical or recent consequences of population genetic structuring. Here we present the results of a survey performed on 616 samples, collected from 19 European countries, genotyped at the mtDNA control-region and 11 autosomal microsatellites. The mtDNA variability was low (nucleotide diversity = 0.0014; average number of pairwise differences = 2.25), suggesting that extant otter mtDNA lineages originated recently. A star-shaped mtDNA network did not allow outlining any phylogeographic inference. Microsatellites were only moderately variable (Ho = 0.50; He = 0.58, on average across populations), the average allele number was low (observed Ao = 4.9, range 2.5-6.8; effective Ae = 2.8; range 1.6-3.7), suggesting small historical effective population size. Extant otters likely originated from the expansion of a single refugial population. Bayesian clustering and landscape genetic analyses however indicate that local populations are genetically differentiated, perhaps as consequence of post-glacial demographic fluctuations and recent isolation. These results delineate a framework that should be used for implementing conservation programs in Europe, particularly if they are based on the reintroduction of wild or captive-reproduced otters. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Moinet M.,Groupe de Recherche et dEtude Pour la Gestion de lEnvironnement | Moinet M.,Laboratoire Of La Rage Et Of La Faune Sauvage Of Nancy | Fournier-Chambrillon C.,Groupe de Recherche et dEtude Pour la Gestion de lEnvironnement | Andre-Fontaine G.,Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Nantes | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

To study the possible role of disease in the decline of endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola), we conducted a survey of antibody prevalence and renal carriage of pathogenic leptospira (Leptospira interrogans sensu lato) using serum and kidney samples collected from 1990 to 2007 from several free-ranging small carnivores and farmed American mink (Mustela vison) in southwestern France. An indirect microscopic agglutination test using a panel of 16 serovars belonging to 6 serogroups (Australis, Autumnalis, Ieterohasmorrhagias, Grippotyphosa, Panama, Sejroe) revealed antibodies in all species, with significant differences in antibody prevalences: 74% in European mink (n=99), 65.4% in European polecats (Mustela putorius, n=133), 86% in American mink (n=74), 89% in stone martens (Martesfoina, n=19), 74% in pine martens (Martes martes, n=19), 35% in common genets (Genetta genetta, n=79), and 31% in farmed American mink (n=51). Serogroups Australis and Icterohaemorragiae were dominant in most free-ranging species; serogroup Grippotyphosa had high prevalences in European mink. Such high antibody prevalences have never been reported. They are probably related to the large number of known reservoirs, rats (Rattus spp.), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), and coypu (Myocastor coypu), in the study area. The polymerase chain reaction test specific for pathogenic leptospiral DNA detected renal carriage in 23% of 34 European mink, 22% of 18 polecats, and 15% of 33 free-ranging American mink, with no significant differences. Renal carriage shows that mustelids may shed leptospira for short periods, but their epidemiologic role is probably limited. High antibody prevalences suggest that the disease is unlikely to be highly pathogenic for these species; however, chronic forms of the disease (abortions, renal lesions) could reduce the reproductive success or life span of infected animals. Further studies on the pathogenicity of leptospirosis in these populations are needed to measure its impact on the population dynamics of these rodent predators. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010. Source

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