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Ecology of Desert Rivers

Edited By: Richard Kingsford

368 pages, diagrams, tables, illus

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jun 2006 | #156189 | ISBN: 0521818257
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NHBS Price: £103.00 $134/€117 approx

About this book

Almost half the world is comprised of desert or dryland regions. Life in these harsh environments depends upon spectacular rivers that are constantly changing between states of flood and drought, but compared to the other rivers of the world, our knowledge of their ecology is limited. Ecology of Desert Rivers provides a comprehensive account of the variable ecology of these areas and how they determine the behaviour and composition of the organisms that survive in this 'boom and bust' environment. It also covers how human interventions such as the creation of dams affect desert rivers and the animals and plants that depend on them for survival. This book provides an up-to-date synthesis of all aspects of desert river ecology and will appeal to researchers and students in ecology, hydrology and geomorphology as well as conservation managers and policy-makers.

I enjoyed reading this book and it has opened my eyes to what is clearly an important freshwater topic that I had previously tended to ignore... I shall use some of the examples in my teaching and the insights that I gained will be useful even in my own work on rivers... Mark Young, Bulletin of the British Ecological Society


Part I. Natural Disturbance in Desert River Systems: 1. Desert or dryland rivers of the world - an introduction R. T. Kingsford and J. Thompson; 2. Flow variability in large unregulated dryland rivers W. J. Young and R. T. Kingsford; 3. Variability, complexity and diversity - the geomorphology of river ecosystems in dryland regions M. C. Thoms, P. H. Beyer and K. H. Rogers; 4. Aquatic productivity and food webs of desert river ecosystems S. E. Bunn, S. R. Balcombe, P. M. Davies, C. S. Fellows and F. J. McKenzie-Smith; 5. Disturbance of plant communities dependent on desert rivers M. A. Brock, S. J. Capon and J. L. Porter; 6. Natural disturbance and aquatic invertebrates in desert rivers A. J. Boulton, F. Sheldon and K. M. Jenkins; 7. Vertebrates of desert rivers - meeting the challenges of temporal and spatial unpredictability R. T. Kingsford, A. Georges and P. J. Unmack; Part II. Human Disturbance in Desert River Systems: 8. Impacts of dams, river management and diversions on desert rivers R. T. Kingsford, A. D. Lemly and J. R. Thompson; 9. Serial weirs, cumulative effects: the Lower River Murray, Australia K. F. Walker; 10. Salinisation as an ecological perturbation to rivers, streams and wetlands of arid and semi-arid zones P. C. E. Bailey, P. I. Boon, D. W. Blinn and W. D. Williams; 11. Water scarcity: politics, populations and the ecology of desert rivers M. Wishart; 12. Changing desert rivers R. T. Kingsford; Index.

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Dr Richard Kingsford is a Principal Research Scientist with the Department of Environment and Conservation in NSW, with wide experience in conservation biology. Born in East Africa in Kenya, his interest in wildlife began in childhood. His research over about the last 20 years has focussed on the waterbirds, wetlands and rivers of arid Australia, which cover about 70% of the continent. These magnificent systems define the ecology of the Australian continent with their boom and bust periods, times of droughts and floods. Research has focussed on the wetlands of Cooper Creek, one of the world's most magnificent desert rivers, and the Paroo River, the last free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling Basin. His research has demonstrated the ecological values of many rivers in arid Australia and impacts of water resource development on desert rivers. In 2001, he was awarded a national science prize (Eureka) for environmental research for his work on Australian rivers. He has also received three national Banksia awards for work on rivers and environmental leadership.

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