Non-native Species and Their Role in the Environment

The Need for a Broader Perspective

The young field of invasion biology - initially a branch of ecology and conservation biology - has greatly expanded, particularly in the last two and a half decades or so. As a result, the potential negative effects of introduced species have been widely advertised and sometimes, perhaps, overemphasized. This book attempts to restore some balance to the current debate over the role of non-native species, by offering a broader perspective, and taking a longer term, evolutionary look at these species and their impact in their new environments. The relatively arbitrary nature of terms such as "native" and "non-native", and the rather inconsistent ways in which such terms are applied to biological species, as well as the subjective boundaries of so-called "native ranges" are analyzed. The role of non-native species in their new environments can be considerably more complex than the anti-introduced species information would often suggest. Thus, the more positive and nuanced perspective on introduced species and their impact offered in this book is much needed and long overdue.
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Biographical Note

Dr. Radu Guiaşu, Ph.D. (1997) in Zoology from the University of Toronto, is an Associate Professor in, as well as the Coordinator of, the Biology Program and the Environmental and Health Studies Program at Glendon College, York University, in Toronto, Canada. His published studies in areas such as conservation biology, ecology, ethology, evolutionary biology, and phylogenetics are based on work conducted in the laboratory and museum collections, as well as hundreds of field trips. Professor Guiaşu has won major teaching awards at both the college and the university level and is a member of the Editorial Board of the scientific journal Crustaceana.

Review Quotes

Radu Guiaşu has written a thoughtful and critical review of our ideas about nonnative species. An aquatic ecologist, Guiaşu questions the common notion that introduced species represent a major global ecological calamity. This is a must read for anyone interested in conservation and biodiversity.
- Mark A. Davis, Professor of Biology, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN

Radu Guiaşu's book adds a welcome new voice to the growing chorus of conservation "heretics" calling for comprehending—rather than reflexively confronting—introduced species, and for accommodating them wherever that accomplishes the greater good.
- Matthew K Chew Ph.D., Arizona State University, Center for Biology & Society

Dr. Guiasu has performed a Herculean task of covering the field of invasive species from a wide and diverse angle. He has expertly both covered and critiqued a large scientific field with a style of writing that makes this a joy to read. Although the scientific depth is apparent, Dr. Guiasu has deftly presented the ideas such that experts and non-experts will be informed, entertained, and challenged to think about one of the foremost threats to nature. Rather than just report findings, Dr. Guiasu presents the field of invasive biology with all of the successes and faults in an open way allowing the reader to draw their own nuanced conclusions. This book is destined to become a staple reading for biologists in any field, but an essential read for ecologists and conservation biologists. This book will be added to the required reading list for my students.
- Dr. Paul A. Moore Ph.D., Biology Department, Bowling Green State University

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix
Introduction 1
1 The Troublesome Matter of Subjective Definitions 8
2 The Dynamic Distributions of Species and the Static Concept of Native Range 38
3 Speciation, Biodiversity, and Introduced Species 57
4 The Controversies Regarding the Perceived Negative Impacts of Non-native Species 83
5 Positive Contributions of Introduced Species 139
6 Changing Ecosystems and Impacts of Introduced Species over Time 160
7 The Endless War on Invasive Species – Control and Eradication Programs 203
8 Some Conclusions and Some Questions 244
Literature Cited 277
Index 309


All those interested in ecology, conservation biology, invasion biology, evolution, and environmental issues related to exotic species, and the constantly changing ecosystems of the world.

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