Cover image for Feral future : the untold story of Australia's exotic invaders
Feral future : the untold story of Australia's exotic invaders
Low, Tim, 1956-
Personal Author:
University of Chicago Press edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxxi, 394 pages : map ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Ringwood, Vic. : Viking, 1999.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH353 .L68 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A decade ago, Tim Low journeyed to the remote northernmost tip of Australia. Instead of the pristine rain forests he expected, he found jungles infested with Latin American carpet grass and feral cattle. That incident helped inspire Feral Future , a passionate account of the history and implications of invasive species in that island nation, with consequences for ecological communities around the globe.

Australia is far from alone in facing horrific ecological and economic damage from invading plants and animals, and in Low's capable hands, Australia's experiences serve as a wake-up call for all of us. He covers how invasive species like cane toads and pond apple got to Australia (often through misguided but intentional introductions) and what we can do to stop them. He also covers the many pests that Australia has exported to the world, including the paperbark tree ( Melaleuca ) that infests hundreds of thousands of acres in south Florida.

Author Notes

Tim Low is an author who wrote Where Song Began: Australia's Birds and How They Changed the World which won an ABIA Award 2015 in the category of General Nonfiction Book of the Year. This title was also shortlisted for a NSW Premier History Award 2015 in the category of Australian History. It was also shortlisted for the 2015 Australia Book Prize presented by the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Journalist Low, writing for the nonscientist, summarizes the additions and subtractions to the Australian fauna in the past 30,000 years. His primary focus is the impact of human settlement since 1780. As he emphasizes, what makes the pest problems unique is the manner in which so many of them were deliberately created. No one intentionally desired to pollute rivers or erode soils, but humans knowingly and willfully released hordes of invaders into the bush and rivers of Australia. Eighteen mammal species have disappeared completely and seven more barely survive on small islands. Ten species of frogs have disappeared. Fungal diseases have killed more than 2,000 native species. But it is a two-way street. Dramatic conquests of Australian plants have transpired in Florida and South Africa. Low cites dozens of examples where Australians, displaying a healthy disrespect for authority, have become complacent about future pest threats. He stresses the most important ways in which pests are introduced and compiles a horrifying litany of all the exotic species known to reside in Australia. The cane toad alone rates a whole chapter. Possible solutions seem futile. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students. G. Nicholas Manhattan College

Table of Contents

2002 Preface
Part I Setting the Stage
1 'Cursed is the Ground' - Pests in Ancient Times
2 First In - Invasions in Old Austria
3 'A Seasonable Gift' - Explorers Seeding the Wilds
4 Ecological Insurrection - Settling in Empty Land
5 'To Our Heart's Content' - The Mad Dreams of the Acclimatizers
Part II Careless Ambitions
6 By Design - Planned Introductions
7 Ode to the Toad - The Cane Toad Conquest
8 'Peopling a Barren River' - A Fishy Business
9 Wet Pets - Aquarium Escapes
10 When Beauty is the Beast - Garden Plants Run Amok
11 Seeking Greener Pastures - CSIRO Welcomes Weeds
Part III Invasion by Stealth
12 'Every Creeping Thing' - Species on the Move
13 Soil Travellers - Worms, Seeds, Spores
14 Ballast Blues - Something in the Water
15 Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Phytophthora's Curse
16 The Sick and Dying - Exotic Disease Strike
17 The Price of Free Trade - Opening the Door to Invasions
Part IV Australians as Pests
18 A Source of Perverse Pride - Australianising the World
19 Colonial Revenge - British Wallabies and Budgerigars
20 Ecologically Entwined - Australians in New Zealand
21 Colouring the Landscape - Our Animals Abroad
22 Inheriting a Degraded World - Exporting Our Flora
23 It's Civil War - Natives can be Pests Too
Part V A Rogues' Gallery
24 The Shuffled Pack - An Alien Who's Who
25 Seizing the Advantage - Exotic Roads to Success
26 A Bad Rap - Cats: Scoundrels or Scapegoats?
27 Where the Deer and the Antelope Roam - Hoofed Introductions
28 The Ultimate Pest - Our Destructive Ways
Part VI Where are We Headed?
29 Expanding and Infilling - Pests Old and New Tighten Their Grip
30 Sleepers Wake - The Pests that Bide Their
31 Knocking at the Door - The Next Wave of Invaders
32 Whither the Wet Tropics? - A Hot Wet Case Study
33 The Homogocene - Visiting the Future
34 The New Architects - Redesigning the Land
35 Cryptogenic World - Native or Not?
36 It Happens Naturally - Invasion as Natural Process
Part VII Thinking and Acting
37 Seeking Magic Bullets - Biocontrol Often Misses the Mark
38 The Quarantine Quandary - AQIS Wields a Small Swords
39 Are We Blind? - Barriers to Enlightenment
40 Wild Organisms - Understanding Plants
41 What to Do? - Embracing a New Ethos
42 Life Goes On
I Australia's Worst Environmental Weeds
II Weeds of National Significance (WONS)
III Introduced Fauna in Australia
IV Australian Animals Abroad
V Some Recent Quarantine Highlights
VI Animals and Plants - A Checklist of Scientific Names
Source Notes