432 pages, illustrations
Springs ecosystems are among the most structurally complicated, ecologically and biologically diverse, productive, evolutionarily provocative, and threatened ecosystems on earth. Springs are places where groundwater reaches the earth's surface through complex, tortuous, and sometimes lengthy flow paths. Historically, they have been revered as sacred places to almost all cultures. Geologically, springs represent some of the most interesting locales available for study. Biologically, springs ecosystems exert a vastly disproportionate impact on regional ecology in relation to their size. In the otherwise harsh environments of arid lands, springs may provide long-term stable habitats that support unique species and evolutionary processes.
Aridland Springs in North America offers a much-needed comprehensive synthesis of aridland springs ecology. Stevens and Meretsky have assembled chapters from numerous and diverse experts from the fields of geology, hydrology, geomorphology, water quality, ecosystem dynamics, water law, and conservation biology. Through analyses and case studies, these contributors provide an in-depth overview of these topics and address issues critical for improving the knowledge and conservation of springs. This volume goes beyond examining the ecological importance of aridland springs to provide practical and productive ideas for their preservation. The authors facilitate future research by cultivating a language with which to collectively describe and study springs ecosystems, creating the beginnings of a comprehensive springs classification system. This book could not be more timely, as groundwater depletion throughout the continent is rapidly decimating these vital sources of life.
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