Life originated and evolved in water. Later the The tropical countries where the need to under- plants moved out of water, conquered the land and stand the natural ecosystems is far greater because became dominant over it. The evolution through they are under intensive pressure from develop- the millennia resulted in enormous complexity of ment from a rapidly growing human population, form, tissue organisation, reproductive mechan- have generally devoted much less attention to the isms and specialisation of taxa in different niches. studies of aquatic ecosystems. The Indian subconti- At some stage during evolution, some plants devel- nent is a well-recognised biogeographic region with oped appropriate morphological and physiological a distinct geological history, climate, soils and adaptations and reverted back to the aquatic and/ biota. It is also distinct in the history of human civilisation and cultures which have a profound bear- or semi-aquatic habitat. These plants, perhaps with the exception of a few ing on the natural ecosystems. This book is in- with beautiful flowers, have attracted little atten- tended to provide the state of our knowledge of the tion from mankind.
The fact that humans evolved aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation in the inland in a tropical forest or savanna environment appears freshwaters of the subcontinent. The book covers responsible for a permanent bias in human atti- only the herbaceous vegetation, since there is al- tudes towards land and its biota.
`Gopal et al are to be congratulated. The book merits a wide distribution and should be at hand to students of ecology and to all those who claim to care for the environment.' Journal of Tropical Ecology
1. Introduction.- Section I. Diversity of Aquatic Habitats and Their Vegetation.- 2. Indian subcontinent and the aquatic subcontinent.- 3. Aquatic vegetation of the Indian subcontinent.- Section II. Ecology of Aquatic Vegetation.- 4. Ecology of plant populations. I. Growth.- 5. Ecology of plant populations. II. Reproduction.- 6. Structure and dynamics of plant communities.- Section III. Role of Aquatic Vegetation in Ecosystem Functioning.- 7. Primary production and energetics.- 8. Nutrient dynamics of aquatic plant communities.- Section IV. Management of Aquatic Vegetation.- 9. Traditional uses and the problem of noxious growth.- 10. Strategies for controlling noxious growth of aquatic vegetation.- 11. Conservation of aquatic plants.- 12. Conclusions and needs for future research.- Taxonomic index.