Polar Biology

, 30:327 | Cite as

Genetic evidence confirms the origin of the house mouse on sub-Antarctic Marion Island

  • Bettine Jansen van VuurenEmail author
  • Steven L. Chown
Original Paper


Biological invasions and climate change are two of the largest threats to biodiversity, and this is especially true for island ecosystems that have largely evolved in isolation. The house mouse is considered to have been introduced to sub-Antarctic Marion Island by sealers in the early 1800s. It is currently widespread across the island and has a large impact on the indigenous biota. To date, little information is available on genetic aspects of biological invasions in the sub-Antarctic. Ten specimens of the house mouse were collected from two geographically separated localities on Marion Island. Sequences of the mitochondrial DNA control region revealed only two haplotypes, separated by a single site change. More importantly, these haplotypes are shared between the eastern and western side of Marion Island. By comparing our sequences to data available on GenBank, we provide evidence that house mice on Marion Island is Mus musculus domesticus (Rutty 1772), and most closely related to haplotypes characterizing this species from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and northern Germany.


Mus musculus Marion Island Mitochondrial DNA Biological invasion 



This work was funded by the South African National Research Foundation’s Antarctic Programme (NRF-SANAP) grant (Gun 2069543) and a Department of Science and Technology—National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology grant. The South African National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Antarctica and Islands sub-directorate are acknowledged for logistic support. Sandra Durand, Marienne de Villiers, and Valdon Smith are thanked for help with tissue collections. Janice Britton-Davidian and three anonymous referees are thanked for valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany and Zoology, Centre for Invasion BiologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa

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