Invasion Biology

Date: April 6, 2011

Teacher Name and Titles: Mark A. Davis, Ph.D., Ed.M., A.B.

Davis, Mark A.

Mark A. Davis, plant ecologist, will discuss the biology and ideology associated with non–native species. The distinction between native and exotic species was a dichotomy that while not created in the 20th century, was one that in the latter decades of the century became a call to arms in the worlds of ecology, conservation, and restoration. As a group, non–-native species were widely vilified as polluting native environments, driving native species to extinction, and destroying ecosystem services. Hyperbole, military language, false claims, and fear–mongering were common tactics used during this time to persuade the public of the dire threats posed by non–native species. It is easy to find examples of these tactics during this time in the scientific literature as well as in the popular media. The phenomenon of native and non–native species was essentially cast as a moral issue. In many parts of the world, these efforts were highly successful, with large portions of the public being persuaded that native species were inherently good and non–native species inherently bad. Mark will contest this perspective.

Mark is currently the DeWitt Wallace Professor of Biology at Macalester College as well as Chair of the Biology Department. Over the years Mark has published many articles on the topics of invasion biology, restorative ecology, succession ecology and climate change. Most recently he was featured in February’s issue of Scientific American in an article entitled A Friend to Aliens and his book, Invasion Biology, was published by Oxford University Press in 2009.
Mark’s Professional Preparation:
1981 Ph.D. Dartmouth College (Department of Biology)
1974 Ed.M. Harvard University (Graduate School of Education)
1972 A.B. Harvard College (History of Science)