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Synopsis

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.

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