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Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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:

  • water and nutrient cycles
  • bioregions and aquatic habitats
  • exotic species invasions
    - water and air pollution
  • ecological restoration
  • habitat loss

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Mercury - Scott Salaway
Should be required reading for every citizen ... This book clearly explains the value of clean water, wetlands, and proper watershed management.
Science Books and Films - John D. Owens
This is a good book, mainly because it covers a wide range of watershed-related issues in a reader-friendly style.
Canadian Geographic
This is an excellent primer on ecology, simply written and charmingly illustrated with more than 100 watercolors.
Green Teacher
This is an essential reference for senior elementary and older students, as well as for interested citizens.
National Science Teachers Association - Arthur Carin
A Recommended Book. Watersheds brings to its readers an enticing survey of the essential elements of water ecology. From the elementary concept of a watershed to more intricate biological aspects of wetland ecosystems and their impact upon the environment, this book delivers the most up-to-date scientific information in a simplified format and writing style... Clive Dobson's more than 100 beautifully crafted color illustrations augment the text and make reading the book easy, informative, and enjoyable... This handbook will be a useful resource for middle and high school teachers as well as high school students.
Calgary Herald - Valerie Berenyi
This is a good reference for older children and interested grown-ups. It's all about water -life-giving water that is the most precious resource on the planet, yet one of the most poorly understood. It's clearly and simply written by biologist Gregor Beck, who explains what a watershed is—essentially a region that drains into a particular body of water. Clive Dobson's lovely watercolour renderings help us quickly grasp the interconnectivity of our water systems, of life.... There are sections about the ecology of hard-working marshes, ponds and estuaries, and an explanation of why floods are devastating but important. I like how the book connects human actions to the health of our watersheds, and provides pages of useful tips: raking leaves by hand instead of using polluting leaf blowers; properly disposing of hazardous household products, not dumping them down the drain; and pulling weeds by hand instead of spraying them with toxins. There's also a hopeful section on restoring the health of streams and rivers.
Canadian Geographic - Michelle Hampson
You flush the toilet, then go to the sink and get yourself a glass of water — water that may be coming from the same place your toilet content was just sent. Perhaps being a little more educated on watersheds and how to protect them isn't such a bad thing. Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water, a heavily illustrated recent re-release of a 1999 book, touches on a wide range of topics, from how seasonal temperature patterns affect oxygen levels in lakes to the many ways in which humans negatively alter natural cycles — releasing substances that cause ozone depletion and acid rain, clear-cutting forests and, yes, treating sewage without properly filtering toxins. The book is full of tips on how to ease your ecological footprint — for example, instead of using road salt, try sand on your steps or, say, an old-fashioned shovel. Watersheds may be too basic for established environmentalists, but it will be appreciated by curious readers concerned about what happens to their toilet water when they flush.
John D. Owens
This is a good book, mainly because it covers a wide range of watershed-related issues in a reader-friendly style
Science Books & Films
Canadian Geographic
This is an excellent primer on ecology, simply written and charmingly illustrated with more than 100 watercolours.
— May/June 2000
Don Gayton
Sooner or later, we all stare into a river and wonder where it has been, and where it is heading. With these words, the authors launch into an exploration of water-related subjects, from the basic notion of a watershed to the complexities of a wetlands ecosystem. This is an excellent primer on ecology, simply written and charmingly illustrated with more than 100 watercolours. Watersheds also broaches larger environmental themes, such as the invasion of foreign species, and offers practical tips on maintaining healthy streams and rivers.
Canadian Geographic
Scott Salaway
Should be required reading for every citizen ... This book clearly explains the value of clean water, wetlands, and proper watershed management.
Mercury (Pottstown, PA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781552093306
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 6/1/1999
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 521,808
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

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 146.) 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

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Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Ecology and the Watershed Concept CHAPTER 1 - WHAT IS A WATERSHED?

A Typical Watershed
Magnification of Environmental Problems
North American Bioregions and Their Watersheds

Eastern Deciduous and Mixed Forest Bioregion
Boreal Forest and Tundra Bioregion
Grassland Bioregion
West Coast Rainforest Bioregion
Desert Bioregion
CHAPTER 2 - How WATERSHEDS WORK: WATER AND NUTRIENT CYCLES
The Water Cycle
Aquifers and Groundwater
The Carbon Cycle
The Nitrogen Cycle
The Sulfur Cycle
The Phosphorus Cycle
CHAPTER 3 - FROM HEADWATERS TO
OUTFLOWS: PARTS OF A WATERSHED
Wetlands
Marshes
Bogs
Fens
Swamps
The Flowing Waters of Streams and Rivers
The Still Waters of Ponds and Lakes

Lake Ecology
Estuaries: Where Rivers Meet the Sea
Rocky Estuaries
Saltwater Marshes
Eel Grass Beds
CHAPTER 4 - NATURAL CHANGES WITHIN WATERSHEDS
Beaver Ponds and Meadows
Natural Succession of Plant Communities
Floods
Eutrophication of Ponds and Small Lakes
PART II: Environmental Issues, Implications, and Solutions CHAPTER 5 AIR POLLUTION
Ozone

Good Ozone:The Ozone Layer
Bad Ozone: Problems at Ground Level
The Greenhouse Effect
Acid Rain
Acid Shock in Meltwater Pools
Dead Lakes
Forest Decline
Effects of Soils and Winds
How Can I Help?: Air Pollution
CHAPTER 6 - WATER POLLUTION
Bioconcentration and the Effects of Contaminants
Biomagnification
Industrial Sources of Water Pollution
Oil Spillage
Industry
Thermal Pollution
Radioactive Wastes
Urban Sources of Water Pollution
The Moral of Summer Thunderstorms
Sewage Treatment and Water Filtration
Alternative Sewage
Treatment
Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution: Too Much of a Good Thing?
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
Deceptive Beauty: Purple Loosestrife
Sea Lampreys in the Great Lakes
Norway Maples and the Native Forest
How Can I Help?: Exotic Species
CHAPTER 8 HABITAT LOSS AND DEGRADATION
Meddling With the Flow of Water: Dams and 0ther Intrusions
Dams
Forestry Issues
Logging Practices
Additional Forestry Problems
Alternative Logging
Practices
How Can I Help?: Saving the Forests
Agricultural and Rural Issues
Prairie Sloughs
Farming the Bottom Lands
How Can I Help?: Habitat on the Working Farm
Urban and Suburban Issues
Urban Rivers
Problems with Fragmented Habitats: Landscape Ecology
The Edge Effect
Wildlife Corridors
CHAPTER 9 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION: RIGHTING ENVIRONMENTAL WRONGS
Restoring Habitats Close to Home
The Multiple Benefits of Native Plants
How Can I Help?: Restoring Backyards
How Can I Help?: Stream and River Restoration

Assessing Your
Local Stream: How Clean is the water?
Biological indicators of Water Quality
Bioindicator Species for Fast-Flowing Streams
CONCLUSION APPENDICES
  1. The Five Kingdoms of Living Things
  2. Food Chains, FoodWebs, and Ecological Pyramids
  3. Common Aquatic Invertebrates of Flowing and Still Waters
  4. Glossary
  5. Selected Bibliography
INDEX
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Preface

Introduction

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

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

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 andfrozen 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

Read More Show Less

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