Biological Invasions

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1611–1630 | Cite as

Review of negative effects of introduced rodents on small mammals on islands

  • Donna B. Harris
Invasive Rodents on Islands


In this first comprehensive review of negative effects of introduced rodents on insular small mammals, the focal species Rattus rattus, R. norvegicus, R. exulans and Mus musculus are implicated in at least 11 extinctions. Furthermore, removal experiments, eradication campaigns and control programmes provide evidence for negative effects on extant populations. While data are currently insufficient for meaningful generalisation with regard to the most threatening rodents, the most threatened small mammals, and the true extent of the problem, it is interesting that R. rattus is implicated in the majority of impacts. This may be explained by its extensive distribution and ecological plasticity. I conclude with methodological recommendations to guide data collection for impact quantification and the study of impact mechanism. This information should facilitate the prioritisation and justification of eradication campaigns, control programmes and biosecurity measures while ensuring that much-needed attention is paid to the conservation of insular small mammals.


Black rat (Rattus rattusHouse mouse (Mus musculusImpact Invasive alien species Norway rat (Rattus norvegicusPacific rat (Rattus exulans



I thank Don Drake and Terry Hunt for the invitation to prepare this review. I am grateful to reviewers Kristofer Helgen and Ross Wanless whose constructive comments improved an earlier draft of this manuscript and to Stephen Gregory for helpful discussions. Thanks also to everyone who responded to my queries and sent me information and references. This work was financially supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecologie, Systématique et EvolutionUniversité Paris-Sud XIOrsay CedexFrance

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