A century ago, a new American decided to introduce all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare to his adopted country. What started out as a romantic idea, soon became an incredible nuisance. One hundred starlings became hundreds of millions, driving out native birds and once, even causing a plane crash by clogging the engine! With this and other stories, the book shows what happens when unthinking or unwitting humans introduce an exotic species and change an entire ecosystem. Unfortunately, there is often no easy way to get rid of the "invaders" without causing even more problems. Although the text is always careful to give both positive and negative effects, the reader comes away understanding that ecosystems are not meant to undergo the sudden changes that humans often bring to them. An extraordinary writer, Guiberson uses accessible, colorful language to make this an entertaining and exciting read. In the process, a lot is revealed about the complexity of ecology. The photographs are well-chosen, but the writing is what really dazzles.
Gr 4-7-What happens when a new and different species of plant or animal is introduced into an ecosystem? This book provides an answer to that question by examining a variety of these "exotic" species and their impacts on their new homes. The first chapter sets the stage for the discussion with a look at animal relationships and nature's own system of checks and balances. The following chapters focus on individual species such as the starling, zebra mussel, and kudzu vine. The discussion is well balanced; the author is careful to look at both the positive and negative aspects of these invasions. However, the reality is that the harm the invaders cause usually outweighs any initial good, and the examples provided make this fact abundantly clear. Methods of controlling exotic species are also examined. The final chapters look at the actions humans are taking to help restore natural balances to environments that have become victims to these invasions. The text is well written in clear, lively language. The accompanying color photos help to illustrate the subject under discussion. A serviceable work that will be of great help to those seeking information on this important environmental issue.-Arwen Marshall, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.