of books by Ken Thompson

KEN THOMPSON, Ph.D. ( ) is a Senior Research Fellow and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK.

Where do Camels Belong?
by Ken Thompson
  Greystone Books, 2014

Thompson explores the idea of 'native' and 'alien' (often called invasive) species and juxtaposes the 'frozen moment' ideology of modern conservation biologists with Darwin's theory of evolution and the history of life on earth that explains birth and extinction of species on migration and natural selection (adaptation). Today's question is, what qualifies as natural or native? Here, the conservation biologist makes a distinction between 'natural' and change brought on by 'human agency', which by definition is not natural, thus alien, and worse, invasive.

He has written this book clearly as a corrective narrative countering current trends of equating alien with invasive, where invasive always means destructive towards native species, although only few invasive species are problematic. If they are problematic, they tend not to be so for native species, but threaten human economic prospects. In modern conservation biology, alien species have become scapegoats for habitat destruction, although human caused habitat destruction often endangers 'natives' and allows alien species well adapted to modern human habitats to prosper. Clearly, invasive species are more an indicator of human influence on habitats, rather then evidence of the destructive nature of the alien species.


February 16, 2015 /  © 2015 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home