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Volume 27 of the Excellence in Ecology series is by a natural historian trying to make a difference in an increasingly stressed natural world. It tells of a personal journey into general ecology and then, at first reluctantly, into its application to one of the great environmental changes of our age – freshwater acidification. The book shows how scientific natural history can play a role in the diagnosis of environmental problems and in suggesting remedies for them; and illustrates the pitfalls of predicting the future and the easy wisdom of hindsight. Freshwater acidification is an excellent example of the positive contributions ecological science can make, here to an issue that is now considered mature and some feel is disappearing into the rear-view mirror of environmental concerns – with possible lessons for the future and new problems as they arise.
Alan Hildrew is Professor Emeritus of Ecology at Queen Mary London and Honorary Research Fellow of the Freshwater Biological Association. He was Chairman of the Council of the Freshwater Biological Association from 1999 to 2010, and its President 2010-2011. He edited Freshwater Biology for 32 years (1982-2014). His research focusses on the ecology of stream organisms, ecosystem processes and neighbouring fields. His approach is based on natural history, having published taxonomic keys and life-history of invertebrates, but his long-term observations have been used to test general ecological theory and application. He advocates a more prominent ‘place in the sun’ for research on fresh waters and their conservation.