The challenges that the world’s running water systems now face have never been more numerous or acute; at the same time, these complex habitats remain absolutely crucial to human wellbeing and future survival. If rivers can ever be anything like sustainable, ecology needs to take its place as an equal among the physical sciences such as hydrology and geomorphology. A real understanding of the natural history and ecology of running waters must now be brought even more prominently into river management. The primary purpose of this textbook is to provide the up-to-date overview that students and practitioners will require to achieve this aim. The book’s unifying focus is on rivers and streams as ecosystems in which the particular identity of organisms is not the main emphasis but rather the processes in which they are involved – specifically energy flow and the cycling of materials. It builds on the physicochemical foundations of the habitat templet and explores the diversity and adaptations of the biota, progressing from the population and community ecology of organisms and linking them to ecosystem processes and services in the wider biosphere via the complexities of species interactions and food webs. These include water quality and patterns of river discharge, as well as aesthetics, waste disposal, and environmental health. While the book is not primarily focused on application per se, each chapter addresses how humans affect rivers and, in turn, are affected by them. A final, future-oriented chapter identifies key strategic areas and sets a roadmap for integrating knowledge of natural history and ecology into policy and management. The Biology and Ecology of Streams and Rivers is an accessible text suitable for both senior undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in both lotic and general ecology as well as more established researchers, practitioners, managers, and conservationists requiring a concise and contemporary overview of running waters.
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