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The large lakes of the world represent one of the most undervalued resources on the surface of the globe. Despite their dimensions, akin to inland seas, they have failed to enthrall man in the manner of the seas of the continental margins. Much of human development has resulted from the very existence of these sweet water inland seas which have been rewarded by being turned into major receptacles for the waste by-products of this development. Over the past two decades the visible and often noxious deterioration in the world's large lakes has resulted in a developing interest and concern by both scientist and layman in these unique water bodies.
In 1982, the First International Phycological Congress was held in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, and provided the editor with an ideal opportunity to organize an international symposium that focussed on the phycology of the large lakes of the world. Scientists from Canada, U.S.A., and U.S.S.R. contributed papers dealing with the large lakes of Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia.
This compendium on the phycology of the Great Lakes of the world is a major stepping stone in the development of a consistent approach and understanding. It stands at the base of the food web, it recognizes the importance of community structure and the fragility of these plants to anthropogenic stress. It represents the encreasing sophistication of the science of fresh water bodies which is slowly enabling us to effectively manage our lakes as ecological systems; to understand and control both food web interactions as well as the impacts of material loadings from our ever changing society.