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Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion
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Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  216 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Now as never before, exotic animals and plants are crossing the globe, borne on the swelling tide of human traffic to places where nature never intended them to be. Bird-eating snakes hitchhike to Hawaii in the landing gear of airliners; pernicious European zebra mussels, riding in ships’ ballast water, disrupt aquatic ecosystems across the United States; feral camels and ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2005)
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South Orange Library
If you have ever thought about the emerald ash borer, zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, or other invasive species this will give you a new world of context. Explore how research is done, question what is pristine, or native, or natural, ponder what actually constitutes an ecosystem and the effects of marine life traveling with shipping. Best of all are the things to think about. “In a homogenized world, where does one seek out novelty, surprise, wonder?” Are ecological communities ephemeral or ...more
Alex
Really, really boring.
Nola
This book definitely does not try to be a comprehensive treatment of invasive species. I’m not quite sure why the author selected the areas on which he focused. However, it does delve into some particularly key questions. How is an intact ecosystem defined? Are intact ecosystems better or more robust than ones that have been invaded? What are the quantifiable effects of invaders? Is there a difference between anthropomorphic invasions and other, sometimes much earlier, invasions? Are the species ...more
Sandy D.
This was fascinating non-fiction, but it was slow going in parts, because the author goes into such depth on some species and the mechanisms of their ecological invasions. He also describes the methodological and philosophical debates current among ecologists.

This is good, because he's not over-simplifying things, but it let's face it: reading about plankton identification techniques, the ways to test the climbing abilities of brown tree snakes, and our inability to know the history of marine in
...more
Sara Van Dyck
Last year, after nutria – invaders from South America - chomped up the lettuces in my Oregon garden, I got an uncomfortable introduction to one of the questions that Burdick addresses. What happens when species are introduced into a new environment? And is there anything we can call truly “natural” any more?

Burdick show us animals that are introduced, unwanted and to our eyes unlovely: the brown tree snake and the drosophila flies of Hawaii, zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, and the millions of
...more
Sarah Beaudoin
Out of Eden examines a variety of different invasive species and attempts to look at the larger ecological issues that evolve when a single species alters the landscape of a location. The book moves around geographically, focusing first mainly on snakes, birds, and fauna on the Hawaiian islands and then moving to sea creatures on the Eastern and Western seaboards (with a nod to the Great Lakes). The author, Alan Burdick, spends nearly as much time discussing the people who study the invasive spe ...more
Katie
Jun 12, 2008 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has a mild interest in bio-invasions, even without a strong biology background
Shelves: non-fiction
I bought this book way back in January '08 as a motivation to get through the semester. Once school got out I cracked it open and pretty much devoured it cover to cover.

Out of Eden is written by someone whose strengths and background are not in biology, but that doesn't detract from the reading at all. Unlike Pollan, whom I feel is far too pop-sciency for my tastes, Burdick writes as an outside observer bringing the world of bio-invasions and invasive species studies to those whose interest rang
...more
Rene
Burdick mixes complex ecological concepts and theories with on the ground stories that allows for an entertaining read that traverses the globe. I was very satisfied with the scope of the stories as I learned about critters on the ground, in the sea, across the sky and beyond.
Steven Williams
Very interresting exploration of how and what non-native species behave in transplanted environment. Really kept my interest all through the whole book. Definitely recommended.
Joseph Scanlan
Burdick is an editor for Discovery Magazine, and I can honestly say I'd never heard of him until I found this book in a store in Denver. So far, it's essentially a history of ecological invasion using the modern-day Hawaiian Islands as the basis for the books framework. If you're into invasive ecology, it's a pretty good read. If you're into Hawaiian or tropical ecology, or how humans have impacted tropical or island ecology, specifically in the Pacific Islands, I'd guess this is a must read. Or ...more
Rhi
I found this fascinating, learning not only about the various invasive species of today and yesterday, but also about the study of these invasions. There is a particularly interesting account of researches in Gaum trying to determine how agile brown tree snakes are. The last chapter was quite thought provoking - asking about the future impact of Earth on the rest of the universe.
Kirsten
A fascinating book that gives an overview of invasive species. It uses a few in-depth case studies to explore the concepts and impacts of a growing problem. Well-told, with very interesting science! The only thing I would really improve would be to make it all a bit more cohesive - it seems like the case studies should be more clearly tied together, as they feel a bit hodgepodge.
Samuel
This book expounds on the impact of biological invasion, and goes further to question our notion of what is natural. Thoughtful and insightful, at the same time the author's description of the various researchers working on the problem of biological invasion bring their stories alive.
Jennifer Wilcox
Like Quammen's "Song of the Dodo" this book does a great job of teaching the reader about islands in their various forms - and just how much we've f*cked-up the planet. It's only a little difficult to get into and stay into.
mary
You must be a science kind of reader to get through this book but if you are--what an eye opener it is. I still am not sure that all ecological "invasions" are a bad thing. Will be pondering that till i die probably.
Laurel
This was dry at times, but pretty interesting. I especially enjoyed the parts about San Francisco Bay (home) and NASA's attempts to prevent terrestrial organisms from spreading to other planets (definitely not home).
Eliza
Good overview of the ecological effect of invasive species on an ecosystem; author is open to the view that it's not necessarily a bad thing; ecological stability is not an end, but rather the means to an end
Mel
Overall a good popular science read except for the occasional rough patches. If you've worked in the conservation field in Hawaii you will recognize many of the names still around today
Christine
May 08, 2008 Christine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those concerned about the environment
Recommended to Christine by: Jenny Raymond
Fascinating overview of the problem -- disaster -- of invasive species. Out of Eden feels more like Pandora's Box! It's an excellent reference as well as a good background book on the subject.
Marcus
This book really surprised me, it's not the typical environmental or science book at all. Funny, cool facts, counterintuitive, and ... deep. And above all a beautiful piece of writing.
Mads
It was hard going at first and my attention flagged during at the marine bio parts, but all in all, it's a good read and a mighty good introduction to the intricacies of invasive biology.
Kathy
Fascinating reports on the brown snakes of Guam, efforts to save what's left of pre-European Hawaii, and marine invasions via ballast water. Great writing, very thorough.
Sarah
This book was pretty interesting at first. But in the end I just wanted to get through it. At times he focused a bit too much on the lives of the researchers.
Elizabeth
Very informative about the perils of island ecology and isolation and the threat introduced speices have in these delicate ecosystems.
Debra
Well-written and accessible book about invasive species. Written in 2005, and I wonder what research and studies have shown since then.
Arne
Thought-provoking and interesting. It's amazing how seemingly slight or mundane events can reshape and entire ecosystem.
Maren
Jul 09, 2007 Maren rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of wildlife
Shelves: nonfiction
Unevenly written but still an interesting and surprising look at invasive species and their effects on different environments.
Thystle
Didn't hold my attention all the way through, but not a bad read. About invasive species.
Kelsey
Very interesting book about invasive species. Not great, but very interesting.
Brooke
Offers interesting perspective in a suprisingly objective way.
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Alan Burdick, a senior editor at The New Yorker, is the author of Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion (FSG, 2005), which was a National Book Award finalist and won the Overseas Press Club award for environmental reporting. He writes the Synthesist column at OnEarth magazine and has contributed to numerous other publications including The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, GQ, Outside, a ...more
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