WHERE DO CAMELS BELONG? The Story and Science of Invasive Species by Ken Thompson

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
WHERE DO CAMELS BELONG? The Story and Science of Invasive Species by Ken Thompson
01 May
2014
‘Alien invasion’ is as much an environmental dog-whistle issue as a political one, and many of the same questions apply – notably, do species ‘belong’ where they evolved, or where they end up?

The waters have been well and truly muddied by our own arrival – before Homo sapiens, everything was where it ought to be.

The fact remains that although most organismal translocation is either beneficial or of neutral effect, public perception is that it’s an evil, largely because invasive species ‘seem practically designed to excite public concern’, being most visibly abundant in the most human-modified habitats – that is, those places where they’re most likely to be seen.

Ken Thompson’s book provides a wealth of baseless horror stories. Purple loosestrife, for instance, a European wetland plant introduced into the USA during the 19th century, has since ‘obliterated’ much native flora, and by 2011 was costing an annual US$45million in control costs. But research, as opposed to belief, reveals no evidence that native plant species have dwindled where loosestrife has flourished – loosestrife’s problem is just that it’s too conspicuous for its own good.

Similarly, imported American mink were blamed for the drop in the British otter population, due to their competing for the same food. But their diets actually overlap little: pesticide pollution was responsible for the otter’s decline.

Thompson’s rational, readable treatise, which reveals that about 20 per cent of Britain’s 300 or so ‘native’ species might more accurately be called ‘doubtfully native’, provides useful correctives to storms in media teacups.

WHERE DO CAMELS BELONG? The Story and Science of Invasive Species by Ken Thompson, Profile, £10.99

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…

Books

An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…

Books

Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…

Books

When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…

Books

Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…

Books

Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…

Books

Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…

Films

Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…

Books

The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…

Books

Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…

Books

‘I look around me and I see a world populated…

Books

Convergence has long been a talking point within evolutionary science.…

Books

At its core, Thomas’ book is about a big hole…

Books

I’m not sure how much of a market there is…

Books

Watling Street connects Dover to Anglesey. Once a meandering track,…

Films

An epic journey alongside the nomadic crew of the Infinity…

Films

Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore returns with…

Films

A new Netflix documentary investigates the dire state of the…

Books

After two years, you’d probably think it nigh on impossible…