Polar Biology

, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp 457–460 | Cite as

Estimated Impact of feral house mice on sub-Antarctic invertebrates at Marion Island

  • D. T. Rowe-Rowe
  • B. Green
  • J. E. Crafford


The energy metabolism of feral house mice Mus musculus was established on sub-Antarctic Marion Island, using the doubly-labelled water turnover technique. Mean water influx was 565 ml kg-1 day-1 and mean CO2 production was 5.41 ml g-1 h-1, i.e. 3375 kJ kg-1 day-1. From the energy content of the main items (Lepidoptera larvae, Curculionidae) in the diet of the mice it was estimated that the dry mass of food consumed was 3.5 g mouse-1 day-1. The overall impact of mice on invertebrates, based on mean mouse density and the mean percentage invertebrates in the diet, was estimated at 108 g ha-1 day-1 or 39.4 kg ha-1 y-1 (dry mass). Greatest predation pressure was on larvae of the flightless moth Pringleophaga marioni: 65 g ha-1 day-1 or 23.7 kg ha-1 y-1. Insect biomass is lower on Marion Island than on nearby Prince Edward Island, which is mouse-free. It is suggested that populations of certain insects on Marion Island are depressed by the alien mice.


Estimate Impact Main Item Water Turnover Great Predation Lepidoptera Larva 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bonner WN (1984) Introduced mammals. In: Laws RM (ed) Antarctic ecology, vol 1. Academic Press, London, pp 235–278Google Scholar
  2. Burger AE (1978) Terrestrial invertebrates: a food resource for birds at Marion Island. S Afr J Antarct Res 8:87–99Google Scholar
  3. Crafford JE, Scholtz CH (1987) Quantitative differences between the insect faunas of sub-Antarctic Marion and Prince Edward Islands: a result of human intervention? Biol Consery 40:255–262Google Scholar
  4. Crafford JE, Scholtz CH, Chown SL (1986) The insects of sub-Antarctic Marion and Prince Edward Islands; with a biliography of entomology of the Kerguelen Biogeographical Province. S Afr J Antarct Res 16:42–84Google Scholar
  5. Drozdz A (1968) Digestibility and assimilation of natural foods in small rodents. Acta Theriol 13:367–389Google Scholar
  6. Gleeson JP (1981) The ecology of the house mouse, Mus musculus Linnaeus, on Marion Island. MSc thesis, University of Pretoria, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  7. Gleeson JP, van Rensburg PJJ (1982) Feeding ecology of the house mouse Mus musculus on Marion Island. S Afr J Antarct Res 12:34–39Google Scholar
  8. Green B, Eberhard I (1979) Energy requirements and sodium and water turnovers in two captive marsupial carnivores: the Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilius harrisi, and the native cat Dasyurus viverrinus. Aust J Zool 27:1–8Google Scholar
  9. Green B, Rowe-Rowe DT (1987) Water and energy metabolism in freeliving multi-mammate mice, Praomys natalensis, during summer. S Afr J Zool 22:14–17Google Scholar
  10. Lifson N, McClintock R (1966) Theory of use of the turnover rates of body water for measuring energy and material balance. J Theoret Biol 12:46–74Google Scholar
  11. Meester JAJ, Rautenbach IL, Dippenaar NJ, Baker CM (1986) Classification of southern African mammals. Transvaal Museum Monograph 5. Iransvaal Museum, Pretoria, 359 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Nagy KA (1980) CO2 production in animals, analysis of potential errors in the doubly labelled water method. Am J Physiol 238:R466-R473Google Scholar
  13. Nagy KA, Costa DP (1980) Water influx in animals: analysis of potential errors in tritiated water method. Am J Physiol 238:R454-R465Google Scholar
  14. Nagy KA, Seymour RS, Lee AK, Braithwaite R (1978) Energy and water budgets in free-living Antechinus stuartii (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). J Mammal 59:60–68Google Scholar
  15. Redford KH, Dorea JG (1984) The nutritional value of invertebrates with emphasis on ants and termites as food for mammals. J Zool, London 203:385–395Google Scholar
  16. Schmidt-Nielsen K (1979) Animal physiology, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK)Google Scholar
  17. Smith VR (1987) The environment and biota of Marion Island. S Afr J Sci 83:211–220Google Scholar
  18. Watkins BP, Cooper J (1986) Introduction, present status and control of alien species at the Prince Edward Islands, sub-Antarctic. S Afr J Antarctic Res 16:86–94Google Scholar
  19. Willan K (1979) Design and field tests of a modified small mammal livetrap. S Afr J Zool 14:81–84Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. T. Rowe-Rowe
    • 1
  • B. Green
    • 2
  • J. E. Crafford
    • 3
  1. 1.Natal Parks BoardPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.CSIRO Division of Wildlife and EcologyLynehamAustralia
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations