Invasives: "Invasion Biology - Critique of a Pseudoscience"

Discussion in 'Plants: Conservation' started by Daniel Mosquin, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    While I was away on vacation I missed the debate occurring in this thread, where the work ""Invasion Biology - Critique of a Pseudoscience" by Theodoropoulos was being suggested as a source for more information.

    First of all, I think that the debate is more appropriate in a new thread, so I'd prefer the discussion to continue here.

    Secondly, I think there's a lot more to be gleaned from this discussion.

    I'll start with a few links:

    A book review of Invasion Biology - Critique of a Pseudoscience in Annals of Botany

    Invasive Species are a Leading Cause of Animal Extinctions (PDF), from a letter published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution
  2. LariAnn

    LariAnn Active Member

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    Miami, Florida USA
    No doubt Theodoropoulos could have been even more thorough and thus his book would have carried even more weight, but nonetheless I feel that it provides a balance to the invasion biology argument that we are beset with "aliens" and "invaders" that need to be exterminated before they drive other species to extinction.

    Any "science" that relies upon anthropomorphic terminology to make points is suspect already, IMHO. A more neutral term for species far afield from their "native" habitats is "displaced species", but of course this does not elicit the emotions that supporters of the invasive concept (including herbicide manufacturers) rely upon to promote their position.

    Also, check to see if backers and supporters of a "science" stand to benefit with heavy financial gains if the concept is widely accepted (for example, herbicide manufacturers supporting the idea of invasive species). True science should not be compromised by such influences.

    We are talking about species which are all native to planet Earth here. In geologic history, it is reasonable to assume that species have not stayed in one location since their inception; those that have, may have gone extinct due to inability to evolve and compete.

    Of course, the argument could be made that since humans are part of the natural world, then our activities are also part of the evolution of the planet. If anthropogenic dispersal is a natural part of the human sojourn on Earth, then the "invasions" are also just as natural and should not be targeted as though the species were from other planets rather than our own.

    The most important consideration, though, to me, is recognizing the vast manner in which human activity has disrupted all "natural" biomes. Most of the time we try to force nature to behave according to our wants and needs, and anything detrimental that results from this is quickly blamed on nature rather than the human activity that really caused it.

    Using the arguments of invasion biology, humans, after all, may qualify as the most dangerous and invasive species to ever inhabit this planet.

    LariAnn Garner
    Aroidia Research
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2007
  3. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    Vero Beach, Fla., USA
    The Society for Ecological Restoration International is bona-fide. Vice-chairman George Gann invented a tiny but effective non-profit called "The Institute for Regional Conservation" in Miami. I'd suggest that there is increasing evidence that ecological restoration is practical and often yields better results than utilizing imported horticultural materials (using native grasses on roadsides, for example).

    Questions about geologic time become tricky--in that context, it might be appropriate for Florida to have elephants, and the arrival armadillos may merely have been a delayed response to the end of the Pleistocene. But we don't exactly need Melaleuca forests, nor any more Burmese pythons than are already loose.

    Currently, I have a bunch of Flaveria lineata flowering in the yard. Is it better than a non-native? I think, probably. Do I have non-natives in the yard? Well, yes.

    A bit of anecdotal evidence in favor of native plant restoration comes from birds. Cape Florida State Park (offshore from Miami) lost its non-native casuarina trees in hurricane Andrew. After the storm, the park was closed, the debris were cleaned up, and native species were planted. It was not a sophisticated effort, since there wasn't too much experience at the time. But today, the park is indisputably a magnet for resident and migratory birds. The same thing happened across the bay at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, where a bare area of filled ground was planted with Florida Keys species. It's now a super spot for birding.

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