Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (1): 22289.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022289

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Distribution and niche overlap of American mink and Eurasian otter in Northeast China

Minhao Chen1, Chao Zhang2, Jiadong Wang1, Zhenjie Zhan1, Junzhi Chen2, Xiaofeng Luan1,*()   

  1. 1. School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    2. National Park (Protected Area) Development Center, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Beijing 100714
  • Received:2022-05-27 Accepted:2022-08-31 Online:2023-01-20 Published:2022-11-11
  • Contact: *Xiaofeng Luan, E-mail:


Aims: As an invasive species, the American mink (Neovison vison) has caused a series of ecological problems in Europe. It competes for ecological space with the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), and its invasiveness poses a serious threat to local biodiversity and ecosystem. However, minks have been introduced into the Northeast China for more than 70 years, yet there are few studies on the field population of minks in China. The purpose of this study is to understand the influencing factors and invasive range distribution of the mink population and the competition relationship between minks and otters with a similar ecological niche.

Methods: In this study, based on the distribution information obtained from field investigation and literature, the potential distribution areas of American mink and Eurasian otter were identified by utilizing an ensemble model, and the geospatial invasion risk of American mink to Eurasian otter was assessed. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to assess niche overlap and influencing factors.

Results: The potential distribution area of American mink was 61,944.57 km2, while the potential distribution area of Eurasian otter was 83,590.94 km2, and the overlapping area was 50,544.21 km2, accounting for 60.47% of the potential distribution area of otters in Northeast China. With distribution by province, otters in Heilongjiang Province had the highest risk of invasion by minks, and the overlap ratio of potential distribution area is 78.94%, followed by Jilin province with an overlap of 53.80%. The environmental niche of minks and otters was highly overlapped, with Schoener’s D value reaching 0.60. The results of single-factor niche analysis indicated that otters were more sensitive to cultivated land density than minks and concentrate in low cultivated land density areas. Otters and minks tended to choose areas with higher forest density, but minks had a smoother selection of forest density and were less dependent on forest than otters. Minks preferred areas with lower precipitation than otters and otters preferred higher-altitude habitats to minks.

Conclusion: According to the geographical distribution characteristics and the results of niche analysis, we suggest that the competition between otter and mink should be regulated by controlling human disturbance to suppress the mink invasion in Northeast China.

Key words: American mink, Eurasian otter, interspecific competition, invasive species, niche overlap