Wetlands in a Dry Land: Understanding for Management

Edited by W.D. Williams.
Environment Australia, Canberra, 1998.
ISBN 0-642-21412-X

This book has 35 papers addressing issues and constraints to wetland management in Australia. The objective was to provide guidance to Australia’s National Wetlands Research and Development program. This program was established to support the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in Australia. Some of the papers were presented at a workshop held in Albury, NSW, Australia on September 29-30, 1997. To broaden the content, several invited papers also were included. Besides review and opinion papers, there are presentations on ongoing management, practical applications of knowledge, and neglected wetland types.

The book is organized into 8 sections: a general issues section followed by 7 sections on specific topics. The section on general issues opens with 2 papers on the mandate and information needs of the National Wetlands Research and Development program. Combined with the next 2 papers on general Australian wetland policies, research and management, they provide a good general introduction. The remaining papers in this section focus on management issues for specific wetland types (billabongs, estuaries) or regions (western Australia, Lake Eyre Basin). The next section addresses effects of water regime on waterbirds, vegetation, invertebrates, and nutrient release.The following section on habitat modification opens with a paper on melaleuca wetlands (wetlands which are dominated by a shrub in the genus Melaleuce), followed by presentations on the creation and management of constructed wetlands and an examination of the effects of livestock on wetlands. The section on pollutants has 3 papers examining the effects of both toxic materials and excessive nutrients on wetland systems. A section on weeds and feral animals addresses 2 important issues for Australian wetlands: noxious weeds and carp. The section on monitoring opens with a paper on remote sensing followed by a contribution on the use of predictive modeling for assessing biological quality of wetlands. The next section on values addresses determining wetland values, public perception of values, and involving the public in wetland management. The final section of the book addresses bridging information gaps among scientists, managers, and community groups.

While the quality of papers is somewhat uneven (a point acknowledged in the Editor’s preface), this book serves as a good introduction to wetland issues and management in Australia. It also will serve as an excellent template for other countries considering similar ventures.

Henry Murkin
Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research
Ducks Unlimited Canada

Studies in Crenobiology: The biology of springs and springbrooks

by L. Botosaneanu (Editor)
Backhuys Publishers, 1998
ISBN 90-73348-04-8
262 pp.
NLG 160,—

In the foreword the editor states that the aim of this book is not a synthesis but a confirmation ‘………….. that progress in crenobiological research is sound and steady, that many different paths are followed, and that we apparently advance towards a blooming period’. These intentions are backed up by 18 contributions. Most of them tackle the problem by analysing distribution and composition of the macrozoobenthos (6 papers). Distributional and/or biological aspects of Trichoptera are studied in 5 papers, two papers deal with Crustacea and Diptera, respectively, and Acari and macrophytes are described each in one paper. Geographically most contributions are from North America and Europe with 8 and 7 papers, respectively. One contribution analyses the faunal communities of Australian mound springs in relation to temperature and salinity.

There is an overall agreement that springs are major freshwater habitat types, different to any other freshwater systems, but very diversified in respect to temperature, discharge regime, salinity, riparian vegetation and geographical location (latitude and altitude). Common to all types of springs seems to be only the fact that springs are the borders, or the transition zones, between hypo- and epigeic systems. Reading this book, I got the impression that the ‘spring’ is probably a theoretical construct. At least there is no environmental parameter or a set of parameters described as characteristic for, and operating in, all of the many types of springs, although various species have been found only in springs. This could be caused by the spring system, but the restricted distribution could also be quite independent of the special spring environment and may be caused, e.g., by a weak competitiveness elsewhere. Williams & Williams (p. 251) seem to be right when they propose ‘…. that springs can continue to aid our understanding of community ecology and ecosystem functions, …and will not only benefit lotic ecology but also contribute to ecological theory in general’.

The book is well printed and only very few of the many figuresare poorly done. It has also to be criticised that one contribution is written in French and two in German. Besides these very minor points of criticism, the book contains a great wealth of information and references and can be highly recommended to all interested in crenobiology and/or limnology.

Gernot Bretschko
Institute for Limnology
Austrian Academy of Sciences