The River Odra mouth area's biological diversity explained in new open access books

August 04, 2013

According to Greenpeace, one of the biggest single threats to marine ecosystems today is overfishing. It is a global phenomenon, frequently resulting in elimination of the species, followed by advanced environmental degradation and irreversible biological damage. The continuous resource depletion has led to a realization that the fisheries policy and governance have to be rooted in the ecosystem context. Healthy aquatic ecosystems are those where human disturbances have not impaired the natural functioning nor appreciably altered the character of the system. During the last two decades, the concept of the 'Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management' has been recognised worldwide. It requires the development of models as one of the major activities indispensable for effective policy of sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems.

In their book, "The Szczecin Lagoon Ecosystem.The Biotic Community of the Great Lagoon and its Food Web Model" -- to be published this summer by Versita, the Polish biologists Norbert Wolnomiejski and Zbigniew Witek offer a comprehensive assessment of the Great Lagoon's environment and biota, presenting a multifaceted analysis of the Lagoon's ecosystem. The authors summarise the results of a five-year study of a particularly complex environmental system, where simultaneous influences of fluvial and marine environments are combined with exceptionally strong anthropopressure. The obtained image of the structure and functioning of the Great Lagoon is compared to studies of other estuary ecosystems in the world, based on a thorough analysis of related literature.

Aquatic ecosystem health is important to humans since everything is connected, and when an ecosystem is out of balance, humans will eventually begin to suffer as well. Our health and many of our activities are dependent on the health of aquatic ecosystems. Most of the water that we drink is taken from lakes or rivers. If the lake or river system is unhealthy, the water may be unsafe to drink or unsuitable for industry, agriculture, or recreation. The authors discuss how the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Szczecin Lagoon should thus be implemented. The project, set to enhance the chances of appropriate use of the natural resources of the area, particularly fish, should act as an aid to rational actions aimed at water quality improvement, in line with ecological, societal, and economic interests of the entire River Odra mouth area.

According to Professor Ryszard Kornijów from National Marine Fisheries Research Institute, in Gdynia (Poland): "The book constitutes a valuable source of information for institutions dealing with environmental protection, and those providing business and investment activity in the study area, using the natural resources of the Lagoon."

This comprehensive study of the large brackish water body on the border between Germany and Poland has also been applauded by Prof. Jan Marcin Węsławski from The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences for its "unique and detailed data archeology". Due to the comprehensive analysis, the book will secure the use among hydrobiologists as well as specialists in the field of aquatic ecosystem ecology, scientific employees, and students of environmental majors.
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De Gruyter Open

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