Biology Of Lakes And Ponds. – Review – book review

Tim Knight

Bronmark, Christer, and Lars-Anders Hansson. 1998. The biology of lakes and ponds. Biology of Habitats. Oxford University Press, New York. xii + 216 p. $85.00, ISBN: 0-19-854972-5 (cloth); $35.00, ISBN: 0-19-854971-7 (paper).

Bronmark and Hansson have produced an excellent text on the ecology of lakes and ponds for undergraduates. The book is well written and contains a thorough review of the pertinent literature. A history of the aquatic ecology field runs throughout the text making this a good review for graduate students as well as instructors in aquatic ecology.

The Introduction (Chapter 1) clearly describes the purpose of the book and the following chapters more than adequately explain the material. Specific examples are given for many of the interactions that are discussed. An early figure depicts in symbolic form an overview of the topics discussed in each chapter. Additionally, this figure provides insight into the authors’ strategy in presenting the material. It is also an excellent example of the well-designed illustrations in the remainder of the text.

Chapter 2, on the abiotic framework, adaptations, and constraints, begins with a brief discussion of the abiotic framework in general. The authors are quick to point out the relationship between specific organismal adaptations and the environmental conditions that cause them. The presentation of the material proceeds with a discussion of the abiotic framework “from the organism’s point of view.” The abiotic factors discussed include turbulence, temperature, light, and abiotic factors determined by the catchment area, i.e., color, pH, nutrients, carbon and oxygen, and habitat permanence.

There is an excellent discussion of temperature adaptations and acclimatization with several very good illustrations. There is also a good discussion of behavioral thermoregulation. However, the highlight of the entire chapter is the discussion of those factors that are determined by the catchment or drainage area. The authors do an excellent job of presenting the information and providing examples and references without overemphasizing the importance of any one factor.

Chapter 3, on aquatic organisms, contains a brief description of the different taxa; however the authors also utilize the more common ecological groupings such as “filter feeders,” “predators,” and “benthic,” as well as size and trophic level. To relay to the reader the functional importance of the different organisms, the authors briefly discuss the many groups of organisms found in freshwaters, without over-emphasizing their functional importance. This chapter has several very good diagrams, including ones on size, classification, and relationship of productivity to pH. The most prominent discussion of this chapter is the section concerning aquatic arthropods, which also contains several excellent figures.

Chapter 4, on relationships among organisms, contains discussions of competition, predation and herbivory, parasitism, and symbiosis. Beginning with the idea of niche, the authors move directly into a discussion of competition. Most of the discussion here is not new; however two ideas (“luxury uptake” and “Paradox of the plankton”), which are not typically found in introductory texts, are introduced. Four examples of competitive interactions are thoroughly examined: periphyton vs. phytoplankton, macrophytes, snails vs. tadpoles, and fish. Each of these is clearly and concisely written with more than adequate diagrams, though the list of references in this discussion may be somewhat lacking.

The conclusion of Chapter 4 concentrates on secondary and inducible defenses and the hypothetical circumstances in which these characteristics are displayed. This may be more than many instructors use in introductory courses; however, it is extremely well written and is a great addition to an introductory text. An exercise involving inducible defenses should be included with this chapter.

Chapter 5, on food web interactions, serves to tie together all the previous components and begins with a brief look at the historical viewpoints espoused in the literature. This chapter is replete with excellent references to the literature to which all students beginning a career in freshwater aquatics should be exposed. After a brief mention of the 1960 model of Hairston, Smith, and Slobodkin, the authors discuss several experiments and models proposed by many different investigators. This section is extremely well written, with excellent figures and explanations.

This chapter also provides an excellent discussion of the microbial component of the ecosystem dynamics. This discussion, centered on the idea of the “microbial loop,” moves directly to the idea of nutrients and nutrient release. As the text moves into a discussion of food web interactions and trophic levels, the importance of the microbial community is retained.

The final discussion of Chapter 5 deals with succession. Though a very good introductory book, this discussion may be the most significant weakness of the entire text. This section deals exclusively with seasonal succession among organisms, without any mention of the overall successional features of aquatic systems as a whole. Much more information could be included here and even if not included, more references should be provided to help direct the interested reader. Some information related to succession is, however, included in Chapter 6 in the context of eutrophication and nutrient loading.

The final chapter (“Environment and conservation”) moves toward a discussion of “disturbed” systems. Several methods of “restoration” are discussed, followed by specific discussion of acidification, UV radiation, and possible synergistic effects of environmental hazards. A very good description (including a diagram) of changes in community composition due to changes in pH illustrates well the potential problems of acidification.

The chapter concludes with a good description of several well-known exotic species that have caused problems after being introduced into new areas. The discussion includes freshwater weeds, the zebra mussel, and the Nile perch.

The entire text contains excellent figures and illustrations that help explain difficult concepts and interactions. Additionally, each chapter (except Chapter 6) has suggested experiments that relate to the material, as well as historical work in the field of aquatic ecology.

In addition to a list of References, there is a list of selected literature for further reading. These references are listed by category, e.g., limnological methods, abiotic frame, food web interactions. There is also a glossary and keyword index.

Bronmark and Hansson have produced an excellent text for undergraduates in aquatic ecology. The book is clearly and concisely written and would be very useful as a reference for graduate students and instructors as well.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Ecological Society of America

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

You May Also Like

Plant Responses to Elevated CO2: Evidence from Natural Springs

Plant Responses to Elevated CO2: Evidence from Natural Springs – Review Yiqi Luo Raschi, A., E Milglietta, R. Tognetti, and Paul Ri…

Ecological controls over monoterpene emissions from Douglas-fir

Ecological controls over monoterpene emissions from Douglas-fir – Pseudotsuga menziesii Manuel Lerdau INTRODUCTION Monoterpene…

The Effects Of Pollen Quality And Reward Depletion

Bumble Bee Selection Of Mimulus Guttatus Flowers: The Effects Of Pollen Quality And Reward Depletion Alastair W. Robertson ALASTAIR…

Ontogeny Or Optimality? A Test Along Three Resource Gradients

Biomass Allocation In Plants: Ontogeny Or Optimality? A Test Along Three Resource Gradients K. D. M. Mcconnaughay K. D. M. MCCONNAU…