Achieving Sustainable Freshwater Systems: A Web of Connections

Article excerpt

Edited by Marjorie M. Holland, Elizabeth R. Blood, and Lawrence R. Shaffer

Washington, DC:Island Press, 2003. 312 pp. ISBN: 1-55963-928-8, $65 cloth. ISBN: 1-55963-929-6, $30 paper.

This book collects chapters written by participants in a conference honoring the opening of the University of Mississippi's Center for Water and Wetland Resources. It is therefore natural that the examples used in the book--such as the fascinating account of the management history of the Cache River Basin--focus on wetlands of the southern United States and especially the Lower Mississippi River and its tributaries. These examples provide a nice geographic complement to earlier studies of adaptive ecosystem management on the Columbia and Colorado rivers, Walters' Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources (1986) and Lee's Compass and Gyroscope (1993).

This is a scientific book, written for a scientific audience; it is a valuable reference source and would be a good choice for a graduate seminar in water resource management. Ecotoxicologists will especially enjoy the chapters on wetlands laws and policies, aquatic resources and human health, contaminant transport, and natural products. This is perhaps the first water management book that includes a discussion of conservation implications of endocrine disruption.

There are currently a couple of major ways to approach ecology. One approach, based on ideas of Eugene Odum, is the integrative perspective, which sees ecology as a unified whole. The other approach sees ecology as comprising several related but distinct perspectives. If the integrative approach is your cup of tea, then you will find great quotations for teaching and research. "Synthesis" and "integration" are two words that appear over and over again throughout the contributions. The synthesis is in the direction of understanding and application of ecosystem processes--energy flow and biogeochemical cycles. …