Book review: The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation

New Scienist stalwart Fred Pearce’s new book is a richly-exemplified and controversial defense of invasive species. 

Book review: The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation

Fred Pearce

Icon Books, €25.50; ebook, €11.55

He takes us on a tour from little-known ‘new ecosystem’ Ascension Island to the cane toad territories of Australia, investigating the common ecological wisdom that ‘aliens’ do tremendous harm and require expensive human action.

It’s a brief history of ingenious interventions, from paracetamol-stuffed mice parachuted into brown-tree snake-infested Guam, to floating harvesters deployed on water hyacinth in Lake Victoria.

But ‘aliens’ are misunderstood, he argues, exposing cherry-picking methodological failures in much of invasive-species biology. Instead, aliens move in and clean up where species are faltering, filling emerging gaps in the ecosystem.

It’s easier to blame the alien than to examine the human environmental impact that enables their arrival, he says, calling for acceptance of the fact that landscapes and ecosystems are forever changing.

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