Where Do Camels Belong?
Wondering if any of you are aware of this book by a Ken Thompson, evidently a professor somewhere in England. I've read excerpts and have got to admit, I find merit in much of what he proposes....that many of the arguments being made against invasive exotic plant species are based less on scientific rigor and more on hearsay and other less-than-solid sources. I won't re-write the book here, but just to touch on purple loosestrife-for a long time, the poster plant for aquatic invasive (emergent zone actually) plant species....Thompson finds scant actual science demonstrating the main tenet of invasion biology-that the invaders drive down species diversity. Now I will readily admit that in a sense, I was primed to pick up on his arguments as it relates to that plant. For whatever reason, I just simply love how purple loosestrife looks. I'm a fan of the color magenta in the landscape, frequently reaching for it in my own ornamental displays, and no species does magenta quite like Lythrum salicaria. I know too that it is an extraordinary attractant to a wide array of pollinator insects, such as many types of bees. I just read one summary of a study conducted in Maine's Acadia National Park where bee surveys conducted prior to the loosestrife invasion were less rich than after.
In any case, at least as it relates to this widespread and uniformly condemned plant species, I find Thompson's arguments compelling. Another main point of this work is that nature and so-called native plant communities were never static, and that much of restoration ecology seems to spring from some imagined static tableau, whereas it is easily demonstrated that even the landscape here in N. America as it existed prior to European settlement was itself a fairly novel arrangement. Kind of a type of heresy within the context of much of what we discuss on this board, but if one is to be scientifically honest, even views that challenge your cherished notions must be welcomed. At least I think so!