This is a new annotated edition of the classic 1958 text The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants, highlighting previously unpublished notes by the original author. Two leading invasion ecologists place the book into historical scientific context
Elton sought to articulate more explicitly his vision of an entire field of invasion science. The 1958 book, aimed at an educated lay audience, was almost wholly descriptive, dominated by striking examples of the nature and scope of particular invasions beginning with the seven examples detailed in Chapter 1. From the materials in the proof copy and other sources, we can imagine a new edition would also have targeted biologists and been somewhat more technical and prescriptive. In autobiographical notes he penned near the end of his life, Elton wrote "This whole subject has deep significance for the study of plant and animal communities and their balance (or unbalance)," and indeed many of the reprints and notes refer to interactions among species and community-wide effects.
Charles S. Elton (1900 – 1991) is widely considered the founder of animal ecology. He established and led Oxford University’s Bureau of Animal Population, responsible for training zoologists from around the world. His scientific legacy, of which Ecology of Invasions is a major part, has influenced generations of biologists.
Daniel Simberloff is the Nancy Gore Hunger Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Tennessee, member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biological Invasions.
Anthony Ricciardi is Professor of Biology in the Redpath Museum and McGill School of Environment, and a Trottier Fellow in Science and Public Policy, at McGill University. He has served on the editorial boards of the journals Biological Invasions, Diversity and Distributions, and NeoBiota.
"Charles Elton’s masterpiece The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants was first published over 60 years ago and is widely recognised as the seminal publication addressing biological invasions. [...] While the number of cases of invasions worldwide has increased and their impacts have become more keenly felt, this second edition reveals that Elton’s ideas and insights remain as important today as they were when first published. It is tempting to consider how influential a second edition would have been had he been able to publish one during his lifetime. In its absence are lucky to have this new edition that loses none of the magic of the original but hopefully will encourage a new generation of ecologists to read this classic work."
– Philip Hulme, The Niche, winter 2020