Book reviews / SILnews 24

Book reviews / SILnews 24

The Freshwater Fauna of Yorkshire. A Faunistic and Ecological Survey

by Geoffrey Fryer, 1993. 312 pp

Based on probably the most comprehensive survey of the freshwater Crustacea of an area of this size, this book considers the fauna of an ecologically diverse region of northern England covering about 1.5 million hectares that is in several respects a microcosm of many parts of Europe. Surveyed areas range from uplands with extremely acidic and impoverished waters to rich alkaline lowlands and embrace a wide diversity of habitats, including some with peculiar faunas. Packed with ecological and faunistic information on the communities concerned and on the habits of individual species, it includes maps relating distribution to ecological conditions and many illustrations of the animals invovled. Well produced and modestly priced, it is available from:

Prof M.R.D. Seward
Dept. of Environmental Science
University of Bradford
Bradford BD7 1DP, U.K.

Price £16 plus £2 postage and packing. Please make payment payable to Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union.

ROTIFERA Volume 5: The Dicranophoridae (Monogononta) by Willem de Smet and The Ituridae (Monogononta) by Roger Pourriot

SPB Academic Publishing, 1997, ISBN 9051031351
350pp with 52 SEM photographs and 963 figures. US$103.50

The Rotifera Volume 5 is part of a series of guides to the identification of microinvertebrates of the world describing two rotifer families the Dicranophoridae and the Ituridae (Monogononta). Both families are treated with a general diagnosis, their morphology and internal organization, some accounts of their distribution and ecology and a revised key to the genera.

The Dicranophoridae includes 17 genera and about 211 valid species that live in both freshwater and marine environments. The group comprises a large number of species that are freeliving, predatory, omnivorous or algal grazers. The species descriptions are accompanied by excellent and clear figures, S.E.M. plates (of trophi structures) with scale bars, many from literature but some drawn by the author. A list of species inquirendae and nomina dubia follows the section on each genus and a check list of names and synonyms at the end of the work. De Smet states that the state of knowledge of the dicranophoids’ distribution and their ecology is very incomplete. They are cosmopolitan as a group and a greater species richness has been reported in the Northern Hemisphere.

Dicranophorids are usually restricted to the littoral zone and shallow waters. Many species are benthic either at the top 23 cm of soft sediments or within the hyporheos of running waters. De Smet has again provided the scientific community and particularly the `rotifer family’ with an excellent taxonomic revision of this fascinating group of species.

The Ituridae contains only one genus, Itura, with 7 species treated as valid in this work. The species key uses characters based on the length of toes, trophic structures, and subcerebral glands. The species descriptions in numbered order, include type locality, distribution and ecology and extra notes where appropriate. A list of species inquirendae is given at the end. The state of knowledge of the family is also incomplete and species are rare, some are cosmopolitan or tropical found in diverse types of habitat. Pourriot has revised and updated the Ituridae in such a way as to make us aware of their presence.

P.E. Schmid & J.M. Schmid-Araya
School of Biological Sciences
Queen Mary & Westfield College
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS UK
Phone: 01717753040

Vegetation Processes in the Pelagic: a Model for Ecosystem Theory

by Colin S. Reynolds

Excellence in Ecology No. 9 published by Ecology Institute, D-21385 Oldendorf/Luhe, Germany. (E-mail:, ISSN 0932-2205, 1997. XXVII + 371 pp. DM68.

Dr Colin Reynolds, now Acting Director of the Freshwater Biological Association, was awarded the Ecology Institute Prize in 1994 for Limnetic Ecology. This book amply demonstrates why Dr Reynolds was honoured in this way. It is a densely written, all-embracing overview of the processes which control the populations of autotrophic organisms in open water habitats. It extends further the imaginative ideas which the author has been developing in his books and papers for a number of years. These include using the methods of terrestrial ecologists to analyse phytoplankton communities and then using the resulting classification to explore the processes which determine under what circumstances one community replaces another and why different communities are associated with particular environmental conditions.

Discussing the paradox of the plankton – how do so many species co-exist in what is apparently a homogeneous environment (Hutchinson, 1961) Reynolds shows us that on the micro-scales of time and space within which the phytoplankton exist, their environment is far from homogeneous and that the same ecological principles which govern other communities apply here. Moreover, because the time scales of events in the pelagic are so short, the communities which live there can provide models for processes which occur over much longer time scales in terrestrial ecosystems. His final chapter seeks to promote the ideas that, first, the lessons learned from the pelagic may perhaps be applied to terrestrial systems and, second, that the ecosystems approach should be applied to “the conservation and management of water resources and the application of ecotechnology to its fulfilment.”

I found this a very thought-provoking and, despite having difficulty with the mathematical bits, readable book. Each chapter is subdivided into sections which are listed in the table of contents but I was surprised at the lack of an index. There is an excellent summary at the end of each chapter. I think this is an important book and one that every ecologist should read.

Mary J. Burgis

Biodiversity Dynamics and Conservation. The Freshwater Fish of Tropical Africa

by Christian Lévêque

Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0 521 57033 6, 452pp. £55.

This important book brings together a wealth of information from both the francophone and anglophone literature. Its subject matter ranges from genetics through ecosystems to continental bio-geography and demonstrates that conservation of the biodiversity in African freshwaters is as urgent as that of tropical rainforest.

A Guide to the Restoration of Nutrient-enriched Shallow Lakes

by Brian Moss, Jane Madgwick and Geoffrey Phillips

1996. 179pp. ISBN 0 948119 29 2

A very clear step by step guide. Obtainable from: The Broads Authority, 18 Colegate, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1BQ, UK.