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RIVER POLLUTION: AN ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE. 1990. Illustrations by Y. Bower. Belhaven Press, London, 253 pp. ISBN 1-85293-073-X


During this century, river pollution has greatly increased: increased in the numbers of rivers affected, though often lessened in the worst-affected rivers. The awareness of its damaging effects, to the rivers and the life they contain, to the seas to which the rivers flow, and on the people drinking the water, is spreading. It is to be hoped that this awareness will lead to the abatement of the nuisance.

This book is intended both for river specialists, and for undergraduates and those with a general interest in pollution. The general reader will, the writer hopes, find a readable text and decorative illustrations. The Tables, and the later parts of Chapter 4 and 5 can be omitted. The specialist will find much more detail in the Figures and Tables, which should be read in addition to the text. Most Figures need more attention than an equivalent area of text.

The text is biased towards vegetation. That is the speciality of the writer. More importantly, vegetation is the most obvious and the most easily interpretable of the living components of the river ecosystem. The pollution in most European lowland rivers can be assessed using this book.




1 What is pollution?

What are rivers? What does Man do to rivers? What is pollution? Is there natural pollution? What grows in rivers? What causes pollution: Domestic effluents, Industrial effluents, Farming? Eutrophication and acidification; Discussion.

2 Pollution, ancient and modern
Domestic pollution; farming; mining, quarrying and gravel extraction; other industrial pollution.

3 Ecosystems and pollution
The study of river life; receiving water; where the plants and animals are found; communities; pollution effects on communities; other assessments, discussion; purification of macrophytes.

4 The effect of pollution on plants
Macrophytes, distribution; how macrophyte habit is affected by pollution; sewage fungus; microphytes; pollution and the organism - nutrients, heavy metals, biocides, chlorine, surfactants, radioactive wastes, salinity and chlorides, acidification; waste heat (thermal pollution), suspended solids, sediments.

5 Effect of pollution on animals
Fish; macro-invertebrates; micro-invertebrates; birds; mammals; pollution in the organism; organic pollution and nutrients - biocides, heavy metals, radioactivity, pH, waste heat, suspended solids.

6 When one thing is added to another
How damage works; rivers under several influences; a stream with a history: the upper Wylye; management in the Somerset Levels; otters; brown trout; electricity generation.

7 Diagnostic methods
Macrophyte monitoring; diatom indices; ecotoxicology, plants; fish monitoring; invertebrate monitoring; other animal survey methods; ecotoxicology, animals.

8 Structural damage: physical damage not due to pollution
What is river structure? Why is structure lost? Loss and alteration of stream; effects of loss of structure; effects of flow controls on structure; channel maintenance practices affecting structure; rivers in settlements; recreational and navigational disturbance to structure; finally, the water.

9 Within-river pollution
Gravel extraction and quarries; inland fisheries; rice paddies; watercress beds; Danish ochre streams; boats; washing; biocides; sheepdip.

10 Domestic and industrial pollution
Macrophyte variation between countries and regions, 1977-84, variations in site diversity, variations in site diversity of pollution-tolerant species; a detailed pollution study, The Lower Don, Scotland; pollution ecology in various rivers - Great Sour, England, Friedberger and Moosach, Germany, Amal, Israel, Small-scale vegetation patterns, Cole, England, Lake District stream, England, Ebbw, Wales, Tyne tributaries, England, Syr, Luxembourg.

11 Pollution from rural land use
Total impact (Cover-Diversity number); nutrient-poor influences; nutrient-rich influences, downstream eutrophication, farming, alluvial plains; purifying influences, sediment erosion, polluted groundwater; poisonous run-off; recreation.

12 Conclusions

1 Early river vegetation; 2 recommendations for maintaining dykes (ditches) in alluvial plains, for conservation; 3 biological methods of assessment, survey and analysis; 4 directives of the Commission of the European Communities governing the required water quality in the Community; 5 EEC 'Black' and 'Grey' list substances; 6 list of principal insecticides, grouped according to the three main types; 7 a key to the commoner species of rivers.


General Index

Species Index

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