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Much as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was a call to action against the pesticides that were devastating bird populations Charles S Elton's classic The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants sounded an early warning about an environmental catastrophe that has become all too familiar today—the invasion of nonnative species From kudzu to zebra mussels to Asian long horned beetles nonnative species are colonizing new habitats around the world at an alarming rate thanks to accidental and intentional human intervention One of the leading causes of extinctions of native animals and plants invasive species also wreak severe economic havoc causing 79 billion worth of damage in the United States aloneElton explains the devastating effects that invasive species can have on local ecosystems in clear concise language and with numerous examples The first book on invasion biology and still the most cited Elton's masterpiece provides an accessible engaging introduction to one of the most important environmental crises of our timeCharles S Elton was one of the founders of ecology who also established and led Oxford University's Bureau of Animal Population His work has influenced generations of ecologists and zoologists and his publications remain central to the literature in modern biologyHistory has caught up with Charles Elton's foresight and The Ecology of Invasions can now be seen as one of the central scientific books of our century—David uammen from the Foreword to Killer Algae The True Tale of a Biological Invasion

10 thoughts on “The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants

  1. says:

    The book is compared with classics of ecology like Silent Spring and rightly so The science of biological invasions is very complex something the author was careful to admit; but his seminal survey of the problem holds up well on most points as eminent ecologist Daniel Simberloff points out in the introduction There's a lot of uotable uotes and witty turns of phrase that make the reading easy; and the study of biological invasions leads Elton into discussion of the grave threat to biodiversity that has only become worse in the 60 years since this book was first published The work is also an interesting snapshot of the times Not just the long list of examples of invasive species that he gives; inevitably some of these are old news and I did skim read some of this it becomes repetitive The introductory chapters look at how the natural distribution of diversity arose due to evolution occurring differently on separate continents and you suddenly realise how different a view of the world was held before the idea of plate tectonics was adopted and Elton's book was first published just on the cusp of that revolution in the geological sciences Still the discussion of evolution generally holds up despite this and you can hardly fault Elton for holding the normal scientific view of his timesThe scientific discussion of the biological mechanisms of invasion is the most remembered part of this book Its main contemporary audience is probably biologists looking at the source of the ideas they are researching But perhaps the best section is his discussion of why should we care about conservation of biodiversity something that has than specialist relevance Is conservation a moral or ethical imperative? An aesthetic and cultural appreciation of nature? Or practical with considerations of protecting our health and our crops by maintaining ecological stability? Elton weaves all three together to draw a picture of what conservation within our farmlands and urban landscapes might consist of a vision that has inspired many efforts to date and should continue to do so

  2. says:

    It turns out that almost everything we think of as common knowledge now about the disasters resulting from humans introducing foreign species was originally the work of CS Elton back in the mid 1950s So in a way it is hard to appreciate the book because of that but it is well worth reading anyway Who can resist an author who writes lines like It is curious that both human beings and this mollusc on the eastern seaboard of North America have evolved the same skyscraper prinicple for exploiting valuable ground to the full

  3. says:

    Historic book which predicted many of the future impacts of invasive species though current ecologists don't fully agree with the author's assuption that disrupted environments are susceptable to invasion than complex environments less impacted by man

  4. says:

    A valuable work a classic this is a book that ecologists should read even if the case studies and maps make for dry reading and a listless flipping of pages The focus is on invasion ecology the great moving and mixing of species underway as people scatter species around the planet and across biogeographic realms intently or inadvertently There is however the book gravitates to a consideration of pests in agricultural landscapes and why we should find solutions informed by ecological processes rather than mere engineering design and chemistry As a buffer from invasion shocks and bolster for community resilience it argues for variety in the countryside in species and refuge habitats from woodlots to hedgerows It ponders our predicament and the inevitability perhaps of needing to direct some human intervention in an already very messed up world

  5. says:

    The classic book on invasive organisms and how globalization was silently seeding the planet with trouble with our efforts to control it creating It's an overlooked 1950s book that actually begat a science and is cited by everyone and his brother who has had cause to write than superficially about invasive species It's pretty dry and wouldn't appeal to most outside of biology but this guy a Brit is also pretty funny and drops some hilarious lines and observations along with what has now become mordant foreshadowing

  6. says:

    Un llibre absolutament imprescindible per a ualsevol biòleg o ambientòleg i feridorament actual tant per la temàtica com per la forma d'abordar la Mig segle després allò ue Elton intuïa o començava a albirar és una realitat i sense auest llibre ue féu esclatar el camp de l'ecologia de les espècies invasores el panorama actual seria ben distint La introducció de Simberloff i unes conclusions finals sobre per uè conservar la natura garanteixen la vigència d'un clàssic de la ciència

  7. says:

    A delightful read Charles Elton is surprisingly enjoyable and his 1958 understanding of invasion biology should make modern biologists embarrassed about their progress uh that might offend some people but the dude was really smart Doesn't read like a dry textbook instead is much conversational