Book reviews / SILnews 25

Book reviews / SILnews 25

Ephemeroptera & Plecoptera: Biology-Ecology-Systematics

P. Landolt & M. Sartori (Editors)

ISBN 2 - 940 187 - 01 -0
Price: 60 Swiss Francs + mailing
From: Dr Peter Landolt, Institute of Zoology, University of Fribourg, Pérolles, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland.

This book contains the proceedings of the VIIIth International Conference on Ephemeroptera and the XIIth International Symposion on Plecoptera held in August 1995 in Lausanne, jointly organized by the Museum of Zoology in Lausanne and the University of Fribourg. The congress was attended by 150 scientists from more than 30 countries and seventy seven papers were presented describing the latest scientific findings on the freshwater insect orders Plecoptera and Ephemeroptera. The volume begins with tributes to the memory of the outstanding entomologists Alexandrova Tshernova and Jaques Aubert. The scientific papers are grouped under six broad topics by the editors, but due to the variety, papers occasionally cross subject boundaries. General biological topics include investigations on life history and behaviour. The inventory of Plecoptera and Ephemeroptera in several river systems world wide contributes knowledge on biogeographical and distributional patterns. Changes in biodiversity observed over long periods of time and the predictability of fluctuations in complex dynamic sytems are discussed. Additionally, the use of stoneflies and mayflies as saprobic indicators for water quality assessment and as sensitive indicators of more general environmental conditions is presented. Investigations on ultrastructures expand our understanding of feeding and reproduction mechanisms and demonstrate their usefulness as a taxonomic tool. The proceedings also include the description of some new taxa, historical aspects and an overview on phylogeny and modern phylogenic theories in Ephemeroptera as well as a review of the current state of stonefly paleontology. In summary, this well organized and high quality book gives a broad overview of the current status of both basic and applied scientific work concerning Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera and emphasizes their important role as sensitive bioindicators.

D.I. Thomas Ofenböck
University of Agricultural Sciences, Vienna

The predatory Cladocera (Onychopoda: Podonidae, Polyphemidae, Cercopagidae) and Leptodorida of the World

I.K. Rivier, 1998

Price: 120.00 Dutch Guilders; US$67
ISBN 90-73348-85-4; Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, 213pp with 258 figs.

In essence this book is a translation and revision of the book published in Russian by Mordukhai-Boltovskoi and Rivier in 1987, together with a useful introduction on the history of the Caspian Sea by Henri Dumont. The translation is easy to read, and of course this makes the information available to a much wider audience. This is important because the radiation of the Onychopoda in the Caspian Sea is unique among the Cladocera.

The first half of the book is a detailed account of the anatomy, biology and ecology of the predatory Cladocera. There are a couple of misprints in tables 1 and 2, but these are easily spotted and do not detract from the value of the work.

The second half gives keys, descriptions and numerous figures of all the species. There are additional drawings of trunk limbs of several species, and some additional SEM pictures when compared to the Russian edition. The twelve maps in the 1987 book have not been included.

There has been an unfortunate mix-up over the figures of Cornigerius lacustris; these appear over the label C. moeticus ab. horribilis, while the figures of the latter are missing (although present in the 1987 book). Aside from such misfortune, this is a most useful book. We now have a clear, intelligible account of the extensive work that has been done in Russia over the last 30 years, and it is now easy to identify the Caspian species. This is quite important, because as more western oil companies are moving into the Caspian, more western biologists are likely to become involved in environmental impact surveys, and they will need to identify the animals they find.

Jim Green
Twickenham, UK

River Biota Diversity and Dynamics. Selected Extracts from the Rivers Handbook

Edited by G. Petts & P. Calow 1996, Blackwell Science.

This book is a selection of chapters of the Rivers Handbook. In this way, the softback edition at an affordable price targets undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in river ecology. This is a book on the river biota. It describes the kinds of organisms that live throughout the unidirectional flow and discuss some of the most relevant ecological processes in which they take part. Chapters are organised in a trophic hierarchy from primary producers to fish (chapters 2-6), leading to trophic interactions and food webs (chapter 7) and processes of decomposition (chapter 8) and primary production (chapter 9). Chapter 10 addresses general principles and considerations in sampling river and streams. The last two chapters (11 and 12) are more applied issues examining the potential effects of hydrological change and hydraulic conditions and the application of predictive models in water resource management.

Two important points need to be mentioned. The first may concern meiofauna specialists who will find that group has been completely excluded despite the date of publication. References quoted in all chapters give the impression that authors did not have the chance to update their reference lists and there is a gap of at least two years.

P.E. Schmid & J.M. Schmid-Araya
Queen Mary & Westfield College, UK