Invasive species come in all sizes, from plant pathogens like the chestnut blight in eastern North America, to the red imported fire ant that has spread throughout the South, the predatory Indian mongoose now found in the Caribbean and Hawaii, and the huge Burmese python populating the Florida swamps. And while many invasive species are safe and even beneficial, the more harmful varieties cost the world economy billions of dollars annually, devastate agriculture, spread painful and even lethal diseases, and otherwise diminish our quality of life in myriad surprising ways.
In Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know, award-winning biologist Daniel Simberloff offers a wide-ranging and informative survey that sheds light on virtually every aspect of these biological invaders. Filled with case studies of an astonishing array of invasive species, Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know covers such topics as how humans introduce these species-sometimes inadvertently, but often deliberately-the areas that have suffered the most biological invasions, the methods we use to keep our borders safe, the policies we currently have in place to manage these species, and future prospects for controlling their spread.
An eminent ecologist, Simberloff analyzes the direct and indirect impacts of invasive species on various ecosystems, such as when non-native species out-compete native species for food or light, describes how invasive species (such as the Asian mosquito that is a vector for West Nile virus, itself an invasive species) transmit pathogens, and explains his acclaimed theory of "invasional meltdown" in which two or more introduced species combine to produce a far more devastating impact than any one of them would have caused alone.
Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know also discusses the more controversial issues surrounding invasive species and it concludes with suggested readings and a list of related web sites.
II. Geography and time course of invasions
1. Which areas have incurred the most biological invasions, and where have most invasions originated?
2. When have invasions occurred and by what means? How have rates of invasions changed?
3. The particular vulnerability of island ecosystems.
4. Distribution of introduced species among habitats.
5. Introduced species and global climate change
III. Impacts of introduced species
1. Many have little or no impact
2. Direct effects
3. Indirect effects
4. "Invasional meltdown"
5. Time lags
6. Economic impacts
IV. Evolution of introduced species and of natives in response to them
1. Morphological evolution
2. Behavioral evolution
3. Life cycle evolution
4. Physiological evolution
5. New species/modified native species generated by hybridization
V. Management of introduced species
1. International agreements and national regulatory frameworks
2. Border security
4. Maintenance management
VI. Controversial matters regarding invasions
1. Useful introduced species
2. Introduced species and biodiversity
3. Invasive natives
4. How do we know a species is introduced?
6. Animal rights vs. species rights
7. Restoration vs. novel ecosystems
VII. Prospect - the Homogocene?
VIII. Suggested reading and websites
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Daniel Simberloff is the Nancy Gore Hunger Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Institute for Biological Invasions at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of approximately 500 publications on ecology, biogeography, evolution, and conservation biology; much of his research focuses on causes and consequences of biological invasions. He is senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions, editor-in-chief of Biological Invasions, associate editor of the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, and serves on the editorial boards of several other journals. In 2006 he was named Eminent Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America.