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Geoscientist Online

Soda Lakes of East Africa

hmkThere are many reasons for writing and publishing a book, but I suspect the best and most satisfying is ‘fun’.  Having now read this latest multi-author publication I firmly believe the 30 different authors had this as their primary motivation. 

This book is probably not the last word on the subject of soda lakes, but it is certainly a milestone in characterization and understanding. Covering geology, geochemistry, limnology, zoology, microbiology, environmental and cultural assessment of the soda lakes of East Africa, particularly those of Kenya, this volume provides comprehensive coverage.

The editor, Michael Shagerl (who is also a contributor), has done an extremely good job of assembling like-minded enthusiasts.  Starting with an assessment of the physio-chemical environment of the lakes, their formation, hydrology and geochemistry, the book then moves to their associated fauna and microfauna.  The final chapters cover issues of conservation and environmental assessment, the challenges in managing the lakes, and potential future scenarios. Despite the comprehensive nature of the chapters, the volume ends with a ‘shopping list’ of issues that still need resolution in our understanding of these unique environments.

The book would seem, at first glance, to be aimed at a highly specialized audience; but if you take a step back from the title, you realise on reading it that the volume is a blueprint for how one should assess an ecosystem - from understanding its geological formation and characteristics, to the micro and macro fauna (and looking to the future to assess potential conflicts and knowledge gaps). 

I would therefore recommend this book to any geoscientist.  It allows the reader to see how our science interplays with other natural sciences, and the close interconnection between geosphere and biosphere. The book is extremely well edited and the chapters well written: a lasting testimony to the considerable effort the editor and authors have applied. Strongly recommended for anyone who thinks about our natural world.

Reviewed by Rob Bowell

SODA LAKES OF EAST AFRICA by MICHAEL SCHAGERL (ed) 2017.  Springer International Publishing ISBN 978-3-319-28620-4 (hbk) 408pp, List price: £100.50.  eBook £80.00. W: