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Title: Limnoecology. 2e
Author(s): Winfreid Lampert and Ulrich Sommer
Date of Publication: 2007 Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages:ix + 324 ISBN: 978 0 19 921393 1
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Sen Secondary







Content: 1 – Ecology and evolution; 2- Methods of ecological research; 3 - Special features of aquatic habitats; 4 - The individual in its habitat; 5 - Populations; 6 - Interactions; 7 - Communities; 8 - Ecosystem perspectives; 9 - Final remarks.

Review: There is always a need for the seemingly contradictory "comprehensive introduction" - the text that provides a sufficiently detailed account to encourage the tyro with a minimum of extraneous material. Deciding which category a piece of information lies in is another matter entirely! Looking at ecological education as it develops there is a sense that analysis is becoming more complex not less and so it becomes essential that if we are to teach a decent background we need to acknowledge that point and seek books accordingly. Here we have the second edition of a text focussing on lakes and streams which, with changing climatic patterns, are becoming increasingly important - the key is to ascertain the degree to which this text helps fulfill the needs placed upon it.

We start with a very slim chapter looking at evolution. The basic notion is that organisms are found in a location due partly to adaptive features. Given this line of reasoning, streams become linear evolutionary experiments. This is not a standard introduction but it does serve to interest the reader. Chapter two, almost equally slim, outlines the use, value and constraints of data gathering. Between the two chapters the reader is set up with some critical thinking about how to view the remainder of the text. Chapter three treats the aquatic habitat as "special" to the extent that its unique parameters need describing. This covers more than just standard abiotic factors to examine ideas such as viscosity and flow. Chapter four expands upon the abiotic by placing organisms into the scene. Thus the reader is faced with a series of features that affect the specifics of location and the impact it has upon them. The next stage is to move into the biological realm with an examination of populations. Growth, control and genetic variation are key themes, showing how the stream and lake organisms can react. Chapter six increases the complexity further by discussing interactions. In this context interactions are both between and within biotic and abiotic factors. The outcome - alteration of species levels and impacts - is the key to understanding these changes. Moving up the scale again, chapter seven discusses interactions in communities. There is also a chance for the reader to be involved in some of the debates such as the "bottom-up/top-down" notions of trophic interactions. There's also a chance to look at community structure found in both lakes and rivers. The last area to consider is the ecosystem. There are many aspects to cover. How do we see the limnetic ecosystem? Is it just a question of energy flow, part of biogeochemical cycles or part of trophic interactions? There's also the impact of people to consider. A final, very brief, conclusion sums up the current issues surrounding lakes and streams.

The opening question was the extent to which the text answered the need to cover both depth and breadth. It is certainly a very dense read with a considerable amount of information presented. The reliance on data and diagrams rather than images might make the text seem more daunting to the beginner but the range of information soon dispels that. One of the more impressive features of the book is the way it covers significant ground in a relatively short space. Overall, it must be argued that it does fulfill this need. This would be a very useful text in advanced secondary courses with a strong river emphasis. In another arena it should be seen as essential in field centres where it ties in practical ideas with a very solid theoretical grounding.





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