Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#StevesLibrary: Invasive Aliens

In the world of conservation, there are few groups of species that catch my attention and imagination more than invasive species. These are species that have been moved outside of their native range (usually by the agency of humankind) to a new area where they cause detrimental effects on local biodiversity. Technically speaking, our own species is invasive – just look at the ecological genocides we tend to create in our wake as we’ve moved around the planet, colonised new areas and multiplied. However, not all species that make their way to a new shore establish or have negative effects. These species are more often called alien or non-native species to reflect this. In Dan Eatherley’s Invasive Aliens, he has cleverly combined these two terms which sets the book up from the get go.

Invasive Aliens discusses some of the many invasive and non-native organisms that have found their new home in Britain. The book also explores how they got here, what effects they have on native species and what the future may have in store for us. Eatherley touches on a number of controversial topics such as what constitutes a native species? This is a highly debated topic but if you don’t know what a native species is, how can you define a non-native? Eatherley also picks up on the fact that as a nation, we’re wildlife lovers. Dating back to the days of the gentleman naturalist (and before), we’ve always felt a deep connection with nature. This means that we’ve embraced some invasives more than others such as the rabbit. If you tell members of the general public that they’re an introduced species you often get some looks of surprise.

Each chapter deals with a different realm be it marine, freshwater or meadow for example. The earlier chapters focus on introductions perpetrated by prehistoric people and subsequent invaders of the British Isles such as the Romans and the Normans. This is an important scene to set as I feel most people only think about invasives from the past few decades, let alone previous centuries and millennia. It’s also interesting to note that some of the most iconic species that have been added to our fauna such as muntjac deers can be traced back to a handful of individuals who were purposely trying to see if species from across the British Empire could acclimatise to mainland Britain. In this instance it was Francis Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in ecology or non-native species. If you haven’t already read Where do Camels Belong?, I’d also do that about the same time as both books compliment each other. It’s no doubt that more non-native species are going to become established in Britain as global trade keeps up it’s pace and climate change has more of an effect.

If you liked this post and enjoy reading this blog, please consider supporting me on Patreon where you will also gain access to exclusive content.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *