The human love of novelty and desire to make one place look like another, coupled with massive increases in global trade and transport, are creating a growing economic and ecological threat. The same forces that are rapidly "McDonaldizing" the world's diverse cultures are also driving us towards an era of monotonous, weedy and uniformly impoverished landscapes. Unique plant and animal communities are slowly succumbing to the world's "rats and rubbervines" - animals like zebra mussels and feral pigs, and plants like kudzu and water hyacinth - that, once moved into new territory, can disrupt human enterprise and well-being as well as native habitats and biodiversity. From songbird-eating snakes to Guam to cheatgrass in the Great Plains, "invasives" are wreaking havoc around the world. In this book, science writer Yvonne Baskin draws on extensive research to provide an overview of the problem of harmful invasive alien species.
She takes the reader on a worldwide tour of grasslands, gardens, waterways and forests, describing the troubles caused by exotic organisms that run amok in new settings and examining how commerce and travel on an increasingly connected planet are exacerbating this oldest of human-created problems. She offers examples of potential solutions and profiles dedicated individuals worldwide who are working tirelessly to protect the places and creatures they love.
Yvonne Baskin is a Montana-based science writer and author of The Work of Nature (Island Press, 1997). Her articles have appeared in Natural History, Science, Discover, The Atlantic Monthly, and numerous other publications. For A Plague of Rats and Rubbervines, she was granted access to worldwide science and policy discussions of the Global Invasive Species Program through one of its sponsors, an international consortium of scientists known as the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE).