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Cambridge Books Online

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Aquatic Ecosystems
Trends and Global Prospects
Edited by Nicholas V. C. Polunin
Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790
Online ISBN: 9780511751790
Hardback ISBN: 9780521833271
Chapter
PART II - STILL WATERS pp. 63-64
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790.007
Cambridge University Press
Part II
Still waters
63
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790.007
Cambridge Books Online Cambridge University Press, 2011
Lakes may contain just 0.01% of the Earths water but
they have inspired poets, painters, philosophers, musicians,
scientists and environmentalists. The English Lake
District helped nurture the poets W. Wordsworth and
S. T. Coleridge, the painter J. M. W. Turner, and the
environmental and social thinking of J. Ruskin. Karelia
in Finland fostered the ringing tones of J. Sibelius.
H. D. Thoreaus Walden Pond is an icon of American
environmentalism; and the lacustrine landscapes of New
England and Wisconsin nurtured the lively writings of the
ecologist G. E. Hutchinson and conservationist A. Leopold.
Lakes are a prominent feature in travel brochures, culturally
encompassing tranquility, rest and refreshment.
The water demand for agricultural, domestic and
industrial purposes that has risen with human population
increase and economic development is going to continue to
grow. By the year 2025, North Africa, the Middle East,
South Africa and northern China will face very severe water
shortages due to human demand exceeding natural supply.
Lakes are going to be especially important and vulnerable,
and the water allocation to society will typically continue to
be met at the expense of the natural environment. With
water scarcity, other issues such as water-based diseases can
be expected to become more prominent. Despite differences
in morphometry, physical dynamics, chemistry and biota,
small and large water bodies, whether saline or freshwater,
are subject to similar threats and will often respond similarly
to human uses and abuses, albeit at different scales. The
cut-off between large and small lakes is arbitrary but size
is an important determinant of environmental vulnerability.
Ponds and small lakes (here <500 km
2
in area) are relatively
vulnerable to water abstraction, pollution, habitat loss and
resource depletion (Chapter 5). Because of their greater
volume, large lakes (>500 km
2
) are relatively less susceptible
to environmental perturbations; for this and other reasons,
including geographical isolation, some of these, such as Lake
Baikal, are important biodiversity foci (Chapter 6). Saline
lakes are not always regarded as a separate ecosystem;
however they span from the smallest to the greatest lakes
(Caspian Sea: volume 78 200 km
3
, area 374 000 km
2
) and
have many distinctive features that warrant individual
treatment (Chapter 7).
64 PART II
Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 117.211.87.42 on Mon Nov 28 07:47:14 GMT 2011.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790.007
Cambridge Books Online Cambridge University Press, 2011