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A Plague of Rats and Rubbervines: The Growing Threat of Species Invasions (Scope Series - Scientific Committee on Pro) Paperback – November 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1559630511 ISBN-10: 1559630515

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Product Details

  • Series: Scope Series - Scientific Committee on Pro
  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Shearwater Books (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559630515
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559630511
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,808,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Increasingly visible to even casual observers, invading species such as the smothering kudzu in the South or the scabrous zebra mussel in the Great Lakes are not only annoying but also costly. Baskin quotes a study that estimates that controlling nonnative species costs the U.S. $137 billion per year, but other standards, of aesthetics and values, also animate her advocacy of controlling the global movement of plants, animals, and microbes. Control seems rather a faint prospect in the age of jet travel, international commerce, and rampant smuggling of exotic pets, but Baskin reports informatively on the state of the effort. She describes her visits to several environments where alien species have run amok, such as Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, South Africa, and New Zealand, skillfully revealing her zoological and botanical knowledge. There has been a certain amount of success in containing invaders, which Baskin takes as an encouraging sign. Her survey--with historical perspective on biological interchange since the time of Columbus--of an extinction threat second only to habitat destruction will appeal to ecologically minded readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A must read for any concerned citizen—you will not be able to put this book down!"
(Peter H. Raven Director, Missouri Botanical Garden)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Liscio on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In a world shrinking because of an increase in global trade and travel, the economic and ecological impacts wrought by invasive species can no longer be ignored and, in some cases, it may already be too late to react.
That's the premise of a new book entitled "A Plague of Rats and Rubber Vines - The Growing Threat of Species Invasions", by Yvonne Baskin (Island Press/Shearwater Books 2002). Baskin, a Montana-based science writer and author of a 1997 book, "The Work of Nature", paints an occasionally grim picture of how humans have diluted, mixed and meddled with the planet's biological wealth, often with troubling consequences.
Written in an easy-to-read style, Baskin makes her case using plentiful examples, from the so-called Cinderella Snail that once promised economic miracles in the Philippines yet managed the opposite, to the dreaded zebra mussel, the tenacious Kudzu vine and the vanishing iguana. She writes candidly and authoritatively on the propagation of feral goats overrunning parts of the Galapagos Islands, and the common house sparrow that lived and bred innocuously in Europe, but "exploded" upon arrival in North America and New Zealand.
As she put it, "Take the house sparrow, a rather sedentary bird that fledges three to five chicks each year in its European homeland. What formula could have warned the acclimatizers and their like - had they cared - that this sparrow would rapidly take much of the New World by storm? Yet nineteenth century observes reported sparrow pairs producing 24 fledglings per year as the birds exploded across North America, and 31 fledglings per year in New Zealand."
In the Galapagos National Park, feral dog packs were killing off the iguana population in the late 1970s.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By corzon on July 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Every now and then I take a look at my garden - does my passion vine do well?, are my ferns lush and green?, and so on. After reading this book, I'm still looking at my garden, but in a different way. Is that vine a potential invader? That knotweed overthere, is it causing trouble somewhere else where it invades the natural area? Are there potential killer weeds in my garden??
Baskin's book changed my view, not a minor achievement. The reason is simple: A Plague of Rats and Rubbervines is an excellent read, informative and well written! It's about biological invasions in a broad sense, from crop pests and foreign diseases to ecological catastrophs caused by alien wildlife. Writing about such a topic has the danger of monotony, and endless lament on past and lost paradise. But Baskin skillfully knows to circumvent such a negative approach. Although the first chapters sketch a grim picture of the havoc caused by alien invasions, the book than continues by describing what current measures must turn the tide. Quarantain at borders and airports are an essential ingredient of fighting invasions. Though often a nuisance to naive passengers, these measures are much more understandable to me now I've read this book. There are also some succes stories about invasions that have been combatted and nearly or completely defeated.
Rats and Rubbervines does not give an exhaustive overview of all invasions - there are simply to many to do this. But more importantly, such an approach would be of little interest. Instead, Baskin offers the reader insight in the underlying causes of invasions, and the economic aspects involved. After reading Rats and Rubbervines, you have a reasonably balanced overview of this important topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K G R VINE VOICE on September 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Baskin provides an excellent introduction to invasive species, chronicling through many enlightening anecdotes the history and consequences of this problem. All too often this subject is presented by specialists for others with biological training, but this book is written well-enough for the general reader. She provides examples of the hard work to remedy the problems associated with invasive species, as well as potential solutions for the future, giving us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, if we make the effort and dedicate appropriate resources. If I had to find faults with the book, I would say that she focuses too intensely on just a few regions (albeit important ones): Montana, Hawaii, Galapagos Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (a little about Florida). Problems in other regions receive little or no attention. But the book is still a great one for this very neglected yet extremely important subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Plague Of Rats And Rubber Vines provides a very important discussion of species invasions around the world while also addressing many of the little-known consequences of such invasions, including the consequences of global trade and world travel so popular with Westerners. Plant and animal communities are increasingly being degraded by invasive species, and Plague Of Rats And Rubber Vines provides a discussion which includes solutions to the threat.
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