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RIVER PLANTS OF WESTERN EUROPE 2ND EDITION. The macrophytic vegetation of watercourses of the European Economic Community. (With contributions and illustrations by P.A. Wolseley.) 2006. Forrest Text. 438 pp. ISBN 09550740 4 5.

This is a revised and updated edition of a book that, for many years, has been the definitive guide to understanding the macrophytic vegetation of watercourses. It was the first and is still the most comprehensive account of aquatic plants in relation to their environment, and to the components of that ecosystem.

The early chapters deal with the physical factors that affect the distribution of plant communities and individual plants in rivers, streams and other watercourses. The ecology of river plants is then considered in relation to the geology and other features of the rivers in which they grow. Plants are living organisms that evolved in their own right, with habit and habitat requirements quite independent of the 'requirements' of people. That independence of plants means that their 'behaviour' in relation to habitat remains unchanged whatever the impact.

As a result of man's continued intervention over recent years, it is in the final section on human impact and management of rivers and catchments as a whole that most changes have occurred. The effect on river plants of the impacts of flood control, dredging, pollution, etc. are therefore dealt with in more detail.

Symbols are used, wherever possible, to represent the commonest species. They show some characteristic feature or habit of the plant, and should help to relate unfamiliar plant names to the relevant river plants. There is a glossary and the bibliography and references have been extended.

Preface to the second edition

Much water has flowed under the bridge, figuratively as well as literally, since the first edition of this book was prepared for Press, nearly thirty years ago.

Plants are living organisms, evolved in their own right, with habit and habitat requirements quite independent of the ‘requirements’ of people. (These, though, have an immense impact on the plants, by altering habitats and therefore which plant species can grow where.) That independence of plants means that their behaviour in relation to habitat remains unchanged whatever the impact, and consequently few changes have been made to the chapters. Where later research has advanced understanding, some new text has been inserted (into Chapters 8, 10).

The community chapters (Chapters 12–14) gave and give one possible way of describing and classifying some British vegetation types. it is not the method later used by either this or other authors, but has its own validity, and provides interpretation to help the understanding of other methods. (These, being already published elsewhere, are listed in the Bibliography but not described in the text.)

In the first edition there were three chapters on North American river plant communities. Their academic level, being based on only a six-week survey, is no longer satisfactory (even though no better research has been published to take its place), and they are omitted.

The final section on human impacts and management now has a chapter on Restoration, not a subject in fashion, or even much practised, in the 1970s! This chapter looks at rivers and catchments as a whole, and precedes the chapters describing the effect on river plants of the impacts of flood control, dredging, pollution, etc. Those chapters remain: the plants still respond in the same way to the same factors. (Though some new text, particularly in Chapter 20, includes later study and practise.)

This is still a British book. Most of the principles and much of the practise also apply in Europe and indeed elsewhere. But, for instance, snow-melt in the north, and, even more, the summer drought in the south of Europe, are among the extra habitat factors not found in Britain, and not included. And geographic variation both in species and within species (see Haslam, 1987) preclude some of the detail being correct elsewhere (e.g., the difference in habitat and occurrence of Apium nodiflorum and Berula erecta does not apply when only one species is present). There has been an explosion of research since the first edition.

References in the new text are the current ones. Those in the first edition have not been updated when updating is hardly more than adding more publications without appreciably expanding the text. The Bibliography has been divided into two parts, the first being publications used for the first edition.

To ensure readers have access to recent literature, and in particular continental literature not specifically discussed in the text, the second part of the Bibliography lists a selection which should enable any reader to get into and find this recent work. This should be read as part of the text. I am much obliged to those colleagues who have most kindly contributed to this.

Finally, I would like to give more thanks. Firstly to Mrs P.A. Wolseley, who has permitted her beautiful illustrations for the first edition to be used again in this one, and to Dr M. Everard and Dr T. Langford for helping me into Restoration (on which, I having recently been studying riverscape/landscape/ecology and wetlands, was far too ignorant.).

Mrs Y. Bower gave permission for the use of (an intentionally ugly) figure. Mrs Tina Bone, Desktop Publisher, Illustrator and Designer once more produced my script with her usual efficiency.

And to all who helped with the first edition, my sincere appreciation. S.M.H. (December 2004).

Contents 2nd Edition

Chapter 8: Nutrients: [New section]: ROCK TYPE AND RIVER VEGETATION

Chapter 10 Plant patterns

Chapter 10: Plant patterns: [New section at end]: INTERPRETATION OF INDIVIDUAL SITES

Chapter 12 Vegetation of streams on soft rocks

Chapter 13 Vegetation of streams on hard rocks

Chapter 14 Vegetation of channels with little flow

Chapter 15 Uses and benefits of river plants


Chapter 17 [old Chapter 16]. Flood hazards created by river plants

Chapter 18 [old Chapter 17]. Changes in flow patterns

Chapter 19 [old Chapter 18]. Maintenance and mechanical use of watercourses

Chapter 20 [old Chapter 19 [New section at end]: CASE STUDY: THE (ABERDEEN) RIVER DON, 1969–1991.

View first edition entry

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