Book Reviews / SILnews 29

Book Reviews / SILnews 29

Fish and Fisheries of Lakes and Reservoirs in Southeast Asia and Africa

Edited by W.L.T. van Densen and M.J. Morris
432 pp., 1999
Westbury Academic and Scientific Publishing Limited
Ilkley Road, Otley, West Yorkshire LS21 3JP
United Kingdom
ISBN 1 84103 004 X
Price ^35.00

This book of 25 papers results from an ASEAN-EEC programme which twinned six ASEAN institutes concerned with fisheries and aquaculture with complementary European Union institutes, particularly Wageningen Agricultural University. The African component was included because the countries of Southeast Asia have few natural lakes and therefore little tradition of pelagic fisheries. However, they now have an increasing number of large reservoirs but few native fish species to exploit their open water habitat. Africa, in contrast, has many large lakes and long experience of open water fish and fisheries. This book brings together a wide spectrum of scattered and previously unpublished information which will be invaluable to the interchange of information between the two continents. Most of the papers contain detailed data and new syntheses which should be of interest to all those with an interest in tropical fish and fisheries.

Mary J. Burgis
United Kingdom

Elsevier’s Dictionary of Aquatic Biology (Russian-English - English-Russian)

by N.N. Smirnov & A.N. Smirnov
407 pp., 1999, Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam
ISBN 0 444 82775 7
Price Dfl. 295 or $149.50 US

This remarkable compilation should be enormously useful, not only to Russian limnologists of all persuasions but also to all non-Russian scientists who wish to explore the Russian literature on aquatic biology at first hand. It contains 20,000 terms related to marine and freshwater animals and plants and their environment. These include many applied aspects ranging from aquaculture to water purification, many technical terms related to laboratory practice, fisheries, seamanship and geography as well as fundamental biology.

I cannot read Russian but during a quick look at the English-Russian half of this Dictionary, I lighted on a page including crystalline, ctenophoran, culture, curlew, current, curve, etc. Like an index the entries under culture include, for example, hydroponic culture, single-cell culture and sturgeon culture. Under curve were included dose-effect curve, frequency curve and von Bertalanffy curve, to mention just three out of sixteen types of curves. The inclusion of phrases such as “sail against the wind” (under sail) must surely make for easier translation than the listing of single words only.

Professor Nikolai Smirnov is now retired (but still working) from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg and a long time member of SIL. He is an authority on cladocera and, with his clear and precise English, played an important bridging role between his non-English speaking colleagues and other freshwater biologists during the International Biological Programme. This is the second Dictionary that he has produced with his son, Alexei. The first was the Elsevier Dictionary of Fundamental and Applied Biology (1996). They are to be congratulated.

Mary J. Burgis
United Kingdom

Water

by M. de Villiers
413 pp., 1999, Stoddart Publishing, Toronto
ISBN 0-7737-3163-6
Price $34.95 CDN

Water is essential to life, whether you are a bacterial cell or a human being. The global water resource has been estimated to be 1.4 billion km3, a number so large that it is hard to comprehend. But the problem with water, and there is a problem with water as Marq de Villiers documents, is that no one is making any more of it. There is the same amount of water on the planet now as there was in prehistoric times. Of the 1.4 billion km3 of water, little is available for human use. More than 97% is ocean water and freshwater stocks are only 2.5%, but even this is not all available. Freshwater lakes and rivers only contain about 0.26% of the world’s total supply of fresh water.

The consumption of water is growing at about twice the rate of population growth. The physical shortage of fresh water and the shortage produced with the deterioration of water quality in many parts of the world is creating what many, but not all, are calling a looming water crisis. More than 1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water and more than 2.9 billion people have no access to sanitation services. The reality, according to de Villiers, is that a child dies every 8 seconds from drinking contaminated water.

This very interesting and well-researched book on Water by Marq de Villiers is divided into 4 parts and 18 chapters.

  • Part I - The where, what, and how much of the water world,
  • Part II - Remaking the water world,
  • Part III - The politics of water; and,
  • Part IV - What is to be done?

Marq de Villiers is a former journalist who has previously published 6 books on exploration, history, politics, and travel. This diverse background is clearly evident throughout this book which is both a travelogue and a history of water combined with its technical and scientific aspects and issues. Water, although loaded with facts, is an easy and fascinating read - in many ways it is like a novel, the reader wants to get to the next chapter to see what is going to happen next! The book ranges from anecdotes about how de Villiers’ grandfather effectively used water on his farm in the arid region of South Africa to ecosystem effects of modern water schemes. I found de Villiers’ in depth look at the politics of water, both from various national as well as international viewpoints, to be particularly fascinating and enlightening. Chapter 18 on “Solutions and Manifestos” tells the reader that if you are short of water, you have the following options: conservation, technological invention or the politics of violence. This statement encapsulates your situation whether you are an individual or a nation.

For many aquatic scientists, especially those living in countries with good supplies of clean drinking water, their almost sole interest in water tends to be their present research problem. Water is a global topic with so many aspects. For those that decide they would like to gain a global water perspective, I highly recommend that you start your quest with de Villiers’ Water.

Richard D. Robarts
UNEP + WHO GEMS/Water Collaborating Centre, Canada

Lipids in Freshwater Ecosystems

Edited by M.T. Arts and B.C. Waiman
317 pp., 1999, Published by Springer-Verlag, NY
ISBN 0-387-98505-0
Cost $79.95 US (hard cover)

This book provides an up-to-date review of the major issues of significance to those interested in the functions of lipids in aquatic ecosystems. The opening chapter includes a thorough review of the current techniques involved in lipid analysis and subsequent chapters move through trophic levels from phytoplankton to fish. In most chapters the material presented is a suitable balance between specific examples, interpretation and generalizations. This book is especially well suited to aquatic biologists who want to understand more about the cycling of material through food webs. We know from recent efforts (~20 years) to increase the farming of aquatic organisms that lipids are critical to the effective transfer of biomass between trophic levels. Lipids, once the preserve of organic chemists, are now fundamental knowledge for those working on the ecology of aquatic ecosystems. This book will be useful to those biologists wanting a summary of the current situation in the growing field of lipid ecology as well as to senior undergraduates and graduate students with an interest in this field.

All of the eleven chapters are good but I was particularly impressed with those written by Goulden et al. (Lipid Dietary Dependencies in Zooplankton; Chapter 5) and Olsen (Lipids and Essential Fatty Acids in Aquatic Food Webs: What can Freshwater Ecologists Learn from Mariculture?; Chapter 8). These authors have tackled issues fundamental to ecosystem functioning and provide lucid, insightful answers mostly based upon their own work. The synthesis provided by Olsen, who has spent years working across three trophic levels, is invaluable and something that is not easily extracted from the primary literature. Personally, I view this book as equally useful to those that work in marine ecosystems. At least five chapters are written by people that have spent a large part, or all, of their careers working on marine ecosystems. Conversely, the role of contaminants on lipids in fish and the role of lipids in the fate of organic contaminants (Chapters 7 and 9, respectively) may have received relatively more attention in freshwater ecosystems.

To a large extent the Editors have managed to avoid one of the common problems in this sort of multi-authored publication. They have produced a book that provides a holistic perspective on lipids in aquatic ecosystems (i.e., there are relatively few gaps) while minimizing the overlap (redundancy) between chapters. From a purely technical perspective this book is very good. I found very few mistakes, the most significant being the absence of Table 10.3 (first cited on page 242). Overall, I am pleased to recommend this book. I am confident most aquatic biologists will want to have a copy in their library. Now if I can just get my copy back from my graduate students...

Peter Thompson
University of Tasmania
Australia