Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Genetic variation and population structure of American mink Neovison vison from PCB-contaminated and non-contaminated locales in eastern North America.

Authors: Wirgin, Isaac; Maceda, Lorraine; Waldman, John; Mayack, David T

Published In Ecotoxicology, (2015 Nov)

Abstract: American mink Neovison vison may be particularly vulnerable to toxicities of persistent contaminants such as PCBs because of their aquatic-based diet, position near the top of the food web, and small deme sizes. Furthermore, ranched mink are sensitive to reproductive toxicities of fish diets from PCB-polluted sites. The upper Hudson River is highly contaminated with PCBs and previous studies have shown elevated hepatic burdens of total and coplanar PCBs in mink collected near the river compared with those from more distant locales in New York and elsewhere. We hypothesized that bioaccumulation of PCBs in Hudson River mink has reduced their levels of genetic diversity or altered their genetic population structure. To address this, we conducted microsatellite DNA analysis on collections made in proximity to and from more distant locales in the Hudson River watershed, elsewhere in New York State, and at other sites in eastern North America including New Brunswick, four locales in Ontario, multiple drainages in Maine, and two ecoregions in Rhode Island. We did not find reduced genetic diversity at the individual or population levels in mink collected near (<6 km) to PCB hotspots in the Hudson River nor evidence of altered population structure. Consistent with their distribution in small localized and isolated demes, we did find significant genetic population structure among many mink collections in New York State and elsewhere. Depending on the analytical approach used, genetically distinct populations numbered between 16 when using STRUCTURE to 19-20 when using Exact G tests, F ST, or AMOVA analyses. Genetically distinct population units were found among major ecoregions and minor ecoregions in New York State, among different hydrologic subunits within the Hudson River watershed, among spatially separate locales in Ontario, and among most watersheds in Maine. However, despite this localization and potential heightened impact of stressors, genetic diversity and genetic population structure in mink does not seem to be affected by their bioaccumulation of high levels of PCBs of Hudson River origin.

PubMed ID: 26374638 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Animals; Canada; Environmental Exposure*; Environmental Monitoring; Genetic Variation/drug effects*; Microsatellite Repeats/drug effects*; Mink/genetics*; Mink/metabolism; Polychlorinated Biphenyls/toxicity*; United States; Water Pollutants, Chemical/toxicity*

to Top