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Estuarine Ecohydrology (Wolanski)

Estuarine Ecohydrology. 2007.
Eric Wolanski. Published by Elsevier, Amsterdam. i–ix + 157 p. ISBN 978-0-444-53066-0. USD $89.95 (hardback).

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Although it is possible to read this slim volume in one sitting, to have done so would have meant losing a great deal of its inner content.

Indeed, Eric Wolanski has brought together a disparate set of disciplines in a way that makes remarkable good sense: ecohydrology. Although many students of estuarine ecosystems have inherently understood the significance of such synthesis, we have not perhaps had the courage that Wolanski has had to attempt a reasoned synthesis; to have done so in such a slim volume is testimony to his remarkable knowledge and understanding of these endangered wetlands—the interface between the sea and the land.

An equivalent principle was established a little while ago for river and lake limnology, spearheaded by Richard Robarts of Canada, among others. And like its counterpart in limnology, it is the overarching embrace that estuarine ecohydrology brings to the management of estuaries that underscores the success of this review by Dr. Wolanski.

His book is divided into seven chapters, beginning with a thoughtful Introduction, in which the raison d'être of the book is explained—human disregard! This is followed by two chapters dealing with water circulation and sediment dynamics. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with tidal wetlands and estuarine food webs, and Chapters 6 and 7 establish the role of ecohydrology models and solutions.

The text is liberally illustrated with diagrams and photographs depicting features explained in the text, and although, in some instances, clarity would have improved with enlargement, the value of the photographs, overall, is only minimally affected.

Infiltrating the author's philosophy is the realization that an understanding of the physical processes that govern the estuarine ecosystems remains a core element in estuarine ecohydrology. Of the myriad examples that Wolanski could have chosen to illustrate this need, he has called upon a number of distinctive examples, common to all estuarine systems. A similar approach is adopted in those chapters dealing more directly with biological features: the readers will identify with all the examples used.

It is understandable that this book has a slight bias towards mangrove systems because of Dr. Wolanski's own extensive experience, and perhaps other readers would have liked to have seen greater use made of other studies in the Southern Hemisphere, but this would have, perforce, enlarged the text, clearly not what the author wanted.

The bibliography is a rich assemblage of modern citations both in journals and review volumes or books: at least 80 citations were from these latter sources. This is clear testimony to the richness of the database that currently exists for estuarine systems and about which Eric Wolanski has written so elegantly. His book will remain close by on my desk!

Brian R. Allanson
Knysna Basin Project

Rhodes University, South Africa

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