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Title: Doing more with less : optimising invasive American mink control for the conservation of water voles and other riparian biodiversity
Author: McHenry, Ewan Killian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 6600
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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Uncertainty hinders effective decision making, and yet conservation management must be carried out both urgently and efficiently. Given the cost of obtaining new information, the value of available data should be maximised to reduce management-relevant uncertainties and improve efficiency, particularly in systems where management must continue indefinitely. This work, using the case study of invasive American mink (Neovision vision, hereafter mink) control in Scotland, seeks to identify and minimise uncertainties most impacting effective and cost efficient strategic decision making in a wildlife management project. The fundamental objective of invasive species management is to restore or protect endemic biodiversity, this objective is however costly to assess directly. We designed and implanted an extensive survey of a vulnerable water vole (Arvicola amphibius) population and used data from mink removal to define the spatially explicit impact of mink and assess the value of control. Decision making for the long-term control of a generalisable, stage-structured, seasonal invasive population similar to mink is then formalised in a management simulation to investigate the impact of key uncertainties on decision making. The susceptibility of juveniles to control, the degree of environmental variation in population productivity and the reliability of monitoring information were definitive for the relative effectiveness of different management decisions. The effect of habitat preference in mink and how this was affected by seasonality and management-induced reduction in population density is then investigated. We identified nine habitat covariates important for mink, four of which exhibited seasonality and one of which changed with population density. This thesis demonstrates how recently developed statistical methods can produce recommendations with high management relevance. The philosophical and methodological approach and results have high relevance to the control of mink, invasive species and more generally to systems where wildlife is managed under uncertainty.
Supervisor: Lambin, Xavier ; Cornulier, Thomas ; Elston, David A. Sponsor: People's Trust for Endangered Species ; University of Aberdeen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: American mink ; Wildlife management