Alien Invasion: America’s Battle with Non-Native Animals
by Robert Devine. National Geographic Society. 280 p. 1998. $15.95
This useful volume is not about attacks from Mars or
illegal immigrants, but instead explores the negative effects of
introduced, non-human species in America.
As such, it is a welcome addition to a subject that has been largely ignored.
Rather scattered, the chapters skip from animals to plants to animals,
and then change wavelength to emphasize a region rather than a taxon. Devine
is to be
forgiven, however, considering the complexity of the issues and the breadth
of this very ambitious work. Readers will learn that introduced species
recognized as the second major factor, after habitat loss, fueling the
extinction crisis; bioinvasions have become a form of global change.
tackles some of emerging conflicts of interest. For instance, animal
welfare groups were for years upset over how The Nature Conservancy
Service were killing feral pigs in sensitive habitats in Hawaii. Then
there are those fighting the use of any herbicides, even for conservation
for life and concern over pollution have merit, yet these need to be
balanced with other conservation concerns and realities. Devine does
Little was said about forest pests and pathogens, perhaps the most catastrophic
of introduced species (next to human epidemics, but I am biased). Also
missing was any useful examination of human population growth or any
challenge to the
modern mantra of globalization.
An especially big disappointment was
that Alien Invaders has no references, bibliography, pictures, illustrations
or graphs. All this missing from
a book published by
National Geographic? The consolation is that Devine actually includes
a strong vein of advocacy--another big surprise considering the publisher--and
useful suggestions how we as individuals and a nation can better protect
our remaining natural heritage from being further homogenized.
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