Above picture:  Dr Sue Tonin; photograph by Antonio Tonin

This month the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project has appointed Dr Sue Tonin, née Jackson, as its Assistant Project Manager.  Sue’s role is to support Dr Anton Wolfaardt, the MFM Project Manager, Project Team and Management Committee in developing and delivering a range of activities associated with the planning work for the project.  The scope of the work is wide-ranging, including overseeing project research and monitoring activities, preparing regulatory applications, supporting fund-raising activities, contributing to preparation of the eradication plan components, and assisting with recruitment and training.

Sue Tonin is no stranger to sub-Antarctic islands, having undertaken her PhD research on seabird digestive physiology on Marion and Gough Islands in the 1980s.  She was then a pioneer for her gender, being the first woman to earn a PhD within the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) during a time when women were restricted to staying on Marion Island during the annual relief and were not allowed to overwinter, a limitation that is thankfully no longer the case.  She served on the Prince Edward Islands Management Committee from 1996 to 2002, then chairing its Sub-committee on Tourism and co-authoring an environmental impact assessment of tourism at Marion Island.

Sue Tonin (then Jackson) is flanked by Tony McEwan and Peter Britz on the summit of Marion Island’s Junior’s Kop in 1985; photograph by Llewellyn Parker

Sue writes to MFM News: “I see my role as one of support for other team members as they fulfil core management functions.  The current team has assembled a body of world-class expertise and experience in successful mouse eradications.  It is faced with a daunting variety of work, including project planning and coordination, dealing with unexpected challenges, obtaining authorisations and funding, sourcing and procuring a wide array of equipment, all while managing human interactions under time pressure.  I note the fundamental importance of research-driven decision-making, and of post- and pre-eradication monitoring, as part of the necessary work of the management team.”

She continues “Mouse eradication on an island as large and remote as Marion will be very difficult, but the MFM Project offers great hope.  It is high-impact conservation work with a single achievable goal.  I’ve been very proud of the project for a long time and feel privileged to join the team.”

On a personal note, I much welcome Sue Tonin to the project team.  We conducted research on seabirds together on Marion and Gough during several annual reliefs in the 1980s and it will indeed be good to be colleagues again after many years.


Selected Publications by Sue Tonin

Heydenrych, R. & Jackson, S. 2000.  Environmental Impact Assessment of Tourism on Marion Island.  Pretoria: South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.  115 pp.
Jackson, S. 1990.  Seabird Digestive Physiology in Relation to Foraging Ecology.  PhD thesis, University of Cape Town.  210 pp.
Jackson, S. 1988.   Diets of the White-chinned petrel and Sooty shearwater in the southern
Benguela region, South Africa. Condor 90: 20-28.
Jackson, S. 1992.  Do seabird gut sizes and mean retention times reflect adaptation to diet and foraging method?  Physiological Zoology 65: 674-697.
Jackson, S. & Cooper, J. 1988.  Use of fiber-optic endoscopes in studies of gastric digestion in carnivorous vertebrates.  Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 91A: 305-308.
Jackson, S., Duffy, D.C. & Jenkins, J.F.G. 1987.  Gastric digestion in marine vertebrate predators: in vitro standards.  Functional Ecology 1: 287-291.
Jackson, S. & Place, A.R. 1990.  Gastrointestinal transit and lipid assimilation efficiencies in three species of sub-Antarctic seabird.  Journal of Experimental Zoology 255: 141-154.
Jackson, S., Place, A.R. & Seiderer, L.J. 1992.  Chitin digestion and assimilation by seabirds.  Auk 109: 758-770.
Lipinski, M.R. & Jackson, S. 1989.  Surface-feeding on cephalopods by procellariiform seabirds in the southern Benguela region, South Africa.  Journal of Zoology, London 218: 549-563.
Ryan, P.G. & Jackson, S. 1986.  Stomach pumping: is killing seabirds necessary?  Auk 103: 427-428.
Ryan, P.G. & Jackson, S. 1987.   The lifespan of ingested plastic particles in seabirds and their effect on digestive efficiency. Marine Pollution Bulletin 18: 217-219.


John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 14 April 2023



The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org.