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Living Waters

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Living Waters

Ecology of Animals in Swamps, Rivers, Lakes and Dams

Nick Romanowski   Dragonfly Aquatics

Colour photographs
304 pages, 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

    Paperback - 2013
ISBN: 9780643107564 - AU $ 39.95

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Wetlands are often seen as the ultimate symbol of beauty and tranquillity, their clear waters sheltering mysterious animals in a world where change is gentle and slow, from dragonflies skimming above their own reflections to the fishes glimpsed briefly below. Yet Australian wetlands are among the most varied and changeable habitats found anywhere, and the many creatures that live out their lives in and around water are superbly adapted to some of the most unpredictable ecosystems in the world.

This book follows the diverse common themes and patterns that link inland waters from Tasmania to the tropics. It shows how cycles of change, the ways that different wetland animals travel through and between wetlands, and the interactions of the animals themselves create an ever-changing ecological kaleidoscope. Drawing on what is known of the biology, ecology and even the genetics of many of the most abundant, widespread and successful groups of animals, the author shows similarities to wetlands in other parts of the world, as well as some of the more extreme environments and specialised animals that are unique to this continent.

Far more than a natural history, Living Waters explains the underlying forces that drive ecological change and movement in Australian wetlands, from the particular needs and habits of some specialised waterbirds to swarms of dragonflies and damselflies that may flourish for a few months before disappearing for years, and fishes found gasping in drying pools far from the nearest permanent water just hours after a desert deluge.

2014 Whitley Award Commendation for Aquatic Biology.


  • A visually attractive publication which makes developments in wetland ecology over the past two decades accessible to a broad range of readers
  • Written in plain-English

Part One: The diversity of wetland animals
1 Invertebrates: the crustaceans
2 Invertebrates: the insects
3 Other invertebrate players
4 Fishes
5 Frogs, reptiles and mammals
6 Waterbirds
Part Two: Living with change
7 Making the most of change
8 Moving on
9 Rebirth of a lake
10 Predator and prey
Part Three: Ecology: fitting into your environment
11 High and low places
12 Streams, brooks and fast rivers
13 Slow rivers in an ancient land
14 Floodplains, billabongs and backwaters
15 Marshes and swamps
16 Freshwater lakes, lagoons and other dark waters
17 Estuaries, mangroves and saltmarshes
18 New opportunities: dams and other created wetlands

 Anyone with an interest in the ecology and natural history of wetland animals in Australia. It will also be a useful reference for senior secondary school students and undergraduates in a wide range of environmentally-related fields. 

 Nick Romanowski is a zoologist, writer and photographer who has been fascinated by all forms of aquatic life from a young age. In the course of researching interactions between plants and animals, he established Australia‚Äôs first indigenous wetland nursery, giving him the freedom to research, experiment with and write about a broad range of animals from across most of this continent. He has written numerous articles on indigenous fishes and aquatic invertebrates, as well as many books including three recent practical guides from CSIRO PUBLISHING: Planting Wetlands and Dams, Wetland Habitats and Wetland Weeds. 

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