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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  312 Ratings  ·  38 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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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
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology, 2008
Really, really boring.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggi, ecologia
Lontano dell'Eden è un saggio che riassume in modo chiaro ma allo stesso tempo scientificamente corretto un viaggio che l'autore ha condotto in giro per il mondo nei luoghi che potremmo definire "hot spot della biodiversità aliena". L'isola di Guam, infestata dal serpente bruno arboricolo di origine australiana, le isole Hawaii, un paradiso tropicale invaso da un numero elevatissimo di specie esotiche, la baia di San Francisco, uno degli ecosistemi acquatici maggiormente invasi al mondo, rappres ...more
Sandy D.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara Van Dyck
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Joseph Scanlan
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
David A-S
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Out of Eden is a deeply interesting read. Burdick presents a challenging issue with artful prose. I was surprised by the issue of Ecological Invasion. I thought it was a pretty cut and dry issue: Invasion bad. Burdick pushes the issue farther in a way that is intimately aware of the biology but a metaphor for globalization in other arenas. Well worth the read and the adventures.
Rene Valdez
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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).
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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.
The only reason I give this book 3 stars is because it's out of date. That's not the book's fault, but rather mine for reading it 10years after it was published. So much more in science has happened since!
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written and accessible book about invasive species. Written in 2005, and I wonder what research and studies have shown since then.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written, scary.
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was OK, but not in my main area of interest.
good jumbled but very interesting
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: conservation
Very informative about the perils of island ecology and isolation and the threat introduced speices have in these delicate ecosystems.
Jered Karr
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Book. Really interesting to look at the impact that invasive species have on our ecoystem
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Steven Williams
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 09, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Alan Burdick, a staff writer and a former senior editor at The New Yorker, is the author of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation. His first book, Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion (FSG, 2005), was a National Book Award finalist and won the Overseas Press Club award for environmental reporting. He has written for numerous publications including The New Yorker, The New York ...more
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