Water is our most vital resource. Yet few understand even the basics of watershed ecology
Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water provides a fascinating overview of the fundamentals of ecology from the simple concept of a watershed to the biological intricacies of a wetland ecosystem and its implications on the environment.
More than 100 illustrations, especially done for this book, help explain the numerous environmental issues and the intricate web of life that connect each of us to all other life on the planet through out involvement in the watershed cycle.
Watersheds includes information on:
Special "How Can I Help?" sections throughout the book provide practical and meaningful ways in which individuals can make a difference to the health of watersheds by reducing water and air pollution, preserving native forests, and helping restore the health of streams and rivers.
Clive Dobson is a multi-disciplined Toronto-based artist whose range of work reflects his concern for the rapidly changing North American landscape.
Gregor Gilpin Beck is a research biologist and writer specializing in ecology, environmental education and conservation. He teaches college and university courses in water pollution, biology and ecology in Toronto.
Impressions of nature spring to mind as we take a quiet morning walk during the early days of March. Here in the Northeast, there is still plenty of snow amid the maple, beech, and cedar trees. The spring thaw has just begun, the air is heavy with fog, and while the winter has been easy, there is enough snow left in the woods to challenge a tall pair of boots.
It is a magical time of year. In this wintry region, warm spring days appear hopelessly distant and elusive. But beneath the snow and in the rising sap of trees, the signs of reawakening and rebirth are singing loud and clear. Everywhere we look, water is flowing again!
The forest is still carpeted in deep snow, but here and there, streams are playing hide and seek. Irresistibly, we are drawn to these places where short-lived creeks appear and disappear beneath the snow. Within a month, though, these surface waterways will be gone.
Without a conscious thought, and with childlike fascination, we follow the course downstream. The first hint is a gentle depression in the snow, then a broad sheet of ice, and finally, much farther along, the first bit of open water. It's just a trickling flow - certainly no Mississippi or Fraser River here, but even those mighty rivers have modest origins. In places, the water meanders unhurried through the thawing earth. Elsewhere, there are narrow and clearly formed rivulets - perfect little streams, flowing fast and wild over gravel and sand.
We follow this elusive stream as best we can, but ultimately it seems to disappear without a trace under the snow. Perhaps it continues to flow unseen, carving out a little gorge between the snow and frozen soil. Or perhaps its course takes it on a secret underground route toward a frozen lake. Whatever its actual path might be, we know that these particular waters, and the various pollutants and nutrients that tag along, will eventually enter rivers and lakes downstream, and finally make their way to the sea,
No matter where we live, we are all part of an incredible watershed story, and we are all part of nature. Water is essential to life on Earth, and it is constantly on the move. Maybe this is part of our fascination with that meltwater stream, and part of our fascination with every other stream and lake and ocean. Sooner or later, we all stare into a river and wonder where it has been, and where it is heading.
When probing the mysteries of a watershed, one can detect many things, both wondrous and worrisome. It is through such observation that we embark on a voyage of discovery and, at the same time, gain understanding and compassion. And because water is a lifeline for us all, it is the natural focus for a book like this one, which serves as an introduction to ecology and environmental issues.
In this book, we are addressing three main goals. First, we hope to promote a better understanding of the fundamentals of ecology. Because water is vital to life, we pay particular attention to water-related issues, from the simple concept of a watershed to the biological intricacies of a wetland ecosystem. (A glossary of technical terms used in the text appears on page I46.) With this ecological context in place, we aim secondly to examine and explain the numerous environmental issues affecting the health of natural ecosystems in North America. Finally, we hope that readers will become active in furthering the goals of conservation and helping to protect and restore the environment. We have included "How Can I Help?" sections throughout Part it to illustrate simple things that individuals can do to support the environment.
Gregor Gilpin Beck and Clive Dobson
Part 1: Ecology and the Watershed Concept
CHAPTER 1 - WHAT IS A WATERSHED?
North American Bioregions and Their Watersheds
Boreal Forest and Tundra Bioregion
West Coast Rainforest Bioregion
CHAPTER 2 - How WATERSHEDS WORK: WATER AND NUTRIENT CYCLES
The Nitrogen Cycle
The Sulfur Cycle
The Phosphorus Cycle
CHAPTER 3 - FROM HEADWATERS TO OUTFLOWS: PARTS OF A WATERSHED
The Still Waters of Ponds and Lakes
Eel Grass Beds
CHAPTER 4 - NATURAL CHANGES WITHIN WATERSHEDS
Natural Succession of Plant Communities
Eutrophication of Ponds and Small Lakes
PART II: Environmental Issues, Implications, and Solutions
CHAPTER 5 AIR POLLUTION
Bad Ozone: Problems at Ground Level
Effects of Soils and Winds
CHAPTER 6 - WATER POLLUTION
Sewage Treatment and Water Filtration
Alternative Sewage Treatment
Agricultural and Rural Sources of Water Pollution
How Can I Help?:Water Pollution
How Can I Help?: Environmentally Friendly Cleaners
CHAPTER 7 THE IMPACT OF EXOTIC SPECIES: HIDDEN INVADERS
Sea Lampreys in the Great Lakes
Norway Maples and the Native Forest
How Can I Help?: Exotic Species
CHAPTER 8 HABITAT LOSS AND DEGRADATION
Additional Forestry Problems
Alternative Logging Practices
Agricultural and Rural Issues
Farming the Bottom Lands
Urban and Suburban Issues
CHAPTER 9 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION: RIGHTING ENVIRONMENTAL WRONGS
How Can I Help?: Restoring Backyards
How Can I Help?: Stream and River Restoration
Assessing Your Local Stream: How Clean is the water?
Bioindicator Species for Fast-Flowing Streams