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Monday 31 August 2020 10:21am

Disaster on four small paws

Carolyn M. King

King cover predators

The story of invasive species in New Zealand is unlike any other in the world. By the mid-thirteenth century, the main islands of the country were the last large landmasses on Earth to remain uninhabited by humans, or any other land mammals.

New Zealand's endemic fauna evolved in isolation until first Polynesians, and then Europeans, arrived with a host of companion animals such as rats and cats in tow. Well-equipped with teeth and claws, these small furry mammals, along with the later arrival of stoats and ferrets, have devastated the fragile populations of unique birds, lizards and insects.

Carolyn M. King brings together the necessary historical analysis and recent ecological research to understand this long, slow tragedy. As a comprehensive historical perspective on the fate of an iconic endemic fauna, this book offers much-needed insight into one of New Zealand's longest-running national crises.

Reviews & Interviews

Interview: The OARsome Morning Show with Jeff Harford

Review (of hardback edition): Forest & Bird Magazine Issue 377 Spring 2020, p59

For me, a scientist specialising in the topic, this book will become an invaluable resource, such is the detail and scholarship. However, it's written for a general audience and will be a fascinating read for
anyone interested in the history of New Zealand, our ecosystems, and the possible futures we can strive for.
– Ecologist Andrew Veale

Carolyn King has written a book that is as much social and environmental history as it is excellent ecology. She describes in fascinating detail how colonists in 19th Century New Zealand created an ecological disaster that the present Predator Free initiative, at a cost of billions over multiple decades, will attempt to address. Professor King warns that the same law of unintended ecological consequences that plagued our ancestors may confront our present eradication efforts. This landmark book deserves to be read with other classics of New Zealand environmental history – Elton's The Ecology of Invasions, Guthrie-Smith's Tutira, and Caughley's The Deer Wars. – Professor Emeritus Charles Daugherty

This excellent book is a unique combination of history and ecology, presenting comprehensive information on the context and effects of the many introductions of small mammals to New Zealand. It contains fascinating stories and exhaustive data on this very significant series of events, and the current and future consequences for conservation of native biodiversity. It is a highly significant and very readable book and I strongly recommend it to anyone with interests in ecology, history and the impacts of invasive mammals. – Emeritus Professor Mick Clout FIOU, FRSNZ

The author

Carolyn M. King is an international authority on the biology of mustelids and rodents. Her research experience ranges from native weasels at Oxford to introduced stoats, rats and mice in New Zealand, where official management of invasive predators has long been informed by her books, papers and university teaching. King recently co-edited a new edition of The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals (OUP, CSIRO).

Publication details

Paperback, 210 x 148mm, 376pp
ISBN 9781990048180, $50

This New Zealand-only edition published by agreement with Springer Nature.

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