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MN develops a new project to continue advancing in the study and control of invasive exotic species in aquatic ecosystems

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MN Consultors, thanks to the subsidy from the Generalitat of Catalonia, intended for the conservation of the biodiversity of river ecosystems, has promoted various works with the aim of eradicating the American mink (Neovison vison) and the pond slider (Trachemys scripta) in the Francolí River basin.

This is a new project executed during the first half of 2024, which aims to complement other previous work aimed at containing the advance of these invasive species in the basins of southern Catalonia.

At the end of June 2024, once the last field campaigns for the control and eradication of the two target species, the pond slider and the American mink, were completed, no more populations of any of these species have been detected in the Francolí River.

Regarding the mink, after the capture of several specimens within the framework of this project (and other campaigns promoted by MN Consultors in previous years), the latest sampling carried out has yielded negative results, so at this time it is considered that the species would not occupy the river system of the Francolí basin. After the reproductive period, it is likely that specimens will appear from other nearby rivers in which the populations of the species are well developed. So, from now on, it will be a priority to program an early detection system that allows the rapid capture of new colonizing specimens that could appear.

These works will allow to improve the design of methodologies to nourish and update the Catalan Strategy for the eradication of the species. The American mink is considered one of the most harmful invasive species for natural aquatic communities and for the ecological stability of river ecosystems, especially in Mediterranean rivers. It must be taken into account that the Francolí River basin is currently the front line of Catalonia through which the species advances, expanding its area of distribution towards the Ebro. The advance of this mustelid towards the basins of southern Catalonia is one of the main threats that compromise the survival of some protected species, such as the water vole (Arvicola sapidus), the Iberian water shrew (Neomys anomalus), or the White-clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), among many others.

The work has had the mandatory authorizations issued by the General Directorate of Environmental Policies and Natural Environment of the regional Goverment (Generalitat de Catalunya), which has allowed the management of the two species under control, both included in the 'Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species'. On the other hand, the project has been carried out under the protection of Resolution ACC/2165/2023 and Order ACC/249/2022, a call for subsidies aimed to improve the natural protected areas of Catalonia, and its habitats and species, within the framework of the Rural Development Program of Catalonia 2014-2022. It is co-financed by the European Union, through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), as well as by the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of the Catalonian Government.

June 2024

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