Population fluctuations in Mink (Mustela vison),
with comparisons to Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
and Ermine (Mustela erminea)
in Southeastern Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario

R. Puttenham

Department of Zoology,
The University of Manitoba,
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
R3T 2N2

 

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Puttenham, R. 1997. Population fluctuations in Mink (Mustela vison), with comparisons to Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) and Ermine (Mustela erminea) in Southeastern Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. M.Sc. thesis, University of Manitoba: 516 pp.

 

Abstract

Manitoba Department of Natural Resources fur harvest records were examined to determine if the provincial populations of mink (Mustela vison), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), and ermine (Mustela erminea) exhibit any periodicity. The above fur return data were analyzed using an autocorrelation formula. This analysis provided evidence that the provincial mink population exhibits an 8-year cycle. However, the provincial muskrat and ermine populations do not express any discernable trends.

The same fur return data were used to determine if there is any association in population cycles among the three fur-bearer species. The correlation coefficients calculated for this interspecific analysis indicate a two year lag in population cycles between mink and muskrat. There was no evidence of a lag in population cycles between mink and ermine, and muskrat and ermine.

The provicial fur-return data were compared to the price per pelt to determine if there is any association between the number of animals caught per year and the price per pelt offered by the fur buyers. The provincial mink population showed a slightly cyclic negative trend in association between the number of animals caught and the price per pelt. The muskrat and ermine populations showed a negative linear trend over eight years of lagged analysis.

To examine if portions of the province express similar cyclicity in population trends, the fur harvest records of eight Manitoba Registered Trapline (RTL) sections plus two Northwestern Ontario RTL regions were examined in the above manner. The two Northwestern Ontario RTL regions were divided into five sections for further comparison. There is evidence of 4-, 8-, 9-, and 10- year population cycles for mink in all but three sections. Similar results were found for muskrat, which exhibited 4-, 6-, and 9- to 10-year cycles for 7 of 13 sections examined. There was also evidence of population cycles of various lengths for ermine in 7 of 13 sections.

As with the provincial fur harvest records, the Manitoba sectional fur return data were examined to determine if there is any evidence of association in population cycles among the three species. There is evidence of two and four year lags in population cycles between mink and muskrat for 5 of 8 sections. There was evidence for cycles of association between mink and ermine, and muskrat and ermine in all sections. The cycles of association were of various lengths.

 


 

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