Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

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

Geographical Week

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

LATEST HEADLINES

Subscribe to Geographical!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The 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 Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    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 ...
    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...
    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...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

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...

Books

by Graham Hoyland• William Collins • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Dr Lucy Jones• Doubleday Books • £19.99 (hardback)

Books

by Daniel Pinchbeck• Watkins • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jasper Winn • Profile Books • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Nathan H Lents • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £16.99…

Films

This hard-hitting marine conservation film – part of the Ocean…

Films

Here are the newest non-fiction offerings to satisfy that craving…

Exhibitions

The Society’s Earth Photo exhibition captures the planet’s natural riches…

Books

by Alanna Mitchell • Oneworld • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Christopher J Preston • The MIT Press • £20.95…

Books

by Jamal Mahjoub • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Joanna Kafarowski • Dundurn Press • 15.99 (hardback)

Books

by Peter Dauvergne • Polity Books • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Mary Beard and David Olusoga • Profile Books •…

Exhibitions

It’s hard to imagine life without the visual world upfront…

Books

by Patrick Winn • Icon Books • £14.99 (paperback)

Books

by Mark Nelson • UA Press • £21.99 (paperback)

Books

by Ed Douglas and John Beatty • Vertebrate Publishing •…

Books

by Tristan Gooley • Sceptre Books • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Adam Weymouth • Particular Books • £16.99 (hardback)