The impact of invasive organisms is second only to habitat loss as a threat to biodiversity and yet, despite increasing ecological awareness, people remain largely unaware of these plants and animals and their potentially devastating impact. Although most biological introductions fail, many prove successful and these can prove disastrous for native fauna and flora.
Field Guide to Invasive Plants & Animals in Britain will enable the identification of a range of invasive plants and animals now found in Britain. Though these species are of particular concern to conservationists there has previously been no unified guide devoted to their recognition. Field Guide to Invasive Plants & Animals in Britain will act both as an ID guide, appealing to the amateur naturalist, and as an important tool for ecologists and land managers attempting to tackle the problem posed by invasive species.
"This field guide is packed full of information and is extremely interesting to read. It has helpful distribution maps and clear symbols that provide important information at a glance but also has enough detail to help with identification and give some understanding of the impact of the species on native plants and animals. In short, I really enjoyed it. However, what's always difficult with these types of guides is where to draw the line as many non-natives have been here so long they are very much part of our everyday experience of our country, e.g. Periwinkle and Rabbit, while – understandably – many non-native insects are not listed.
Personally, for the book to be of real value, I would have preferred a slimmer version that was restricted to those species that are of real concern and required recording, perhaps with an update each year to keep the information current."
- Debbie Todd, BTO book reviews
This guide has plenty of great photos and interesting information in it, but there are some things that it does or does not have that I find to be questionable. Most disappointing was that it didn't include some of the more obscure invasive species that have been recorded in Britain; examples are the red-bellied piranha, red-necked wallaby, and Indian peafowl; all three of them have been seen in the wild in Britain in recent times, but I didn't see anything about them in the book, and I doubt that there is a good reason for this. There are also at least two species in the book that literally haven't even been recorded in Britain yet, but are included simply because they are expected to be seen in Britain eventually. I also think that including one particular species, the muskrat, was pointless, due to the fact that it clearly states in the text that they were exterminated from Britain a great many years ago; what's the point in including something that nobody is ever going to see again in a field guide, of all things? It is also worth noting that the maps are unnecessarily confusing in the way that there are simply too many different symbols used to indicate distribution.
It isn't a particularly professional production, but it's worth getting if your expectations are low.
Working at the sharp end of biological introduction, professional ecologists Max Wade, Olaf Booy and Helen Roy are well placed to write the definitive guide to invasive organisms. Between them they have written several books and academic papers, developed key species management techniques and established removal programmes for invasive plants across the UK.