Proceedings of the Symposium on Recent Benthological Investigations in Texas and Adjacent States
Texas Academy of Science
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Our booming population and the attraction Texas holds for new industries has placed into perspective one of our most critical concerns: the quantity and quality of water, the very essence of life. As continued economic and populational growth magnify the demand for water suitable for domestic, industrial, agricultural, and recreational usage, wasterwater disposal requirements will also increase. Thus, the quantity of water available for beneficial uses may be subject to exponential depletion as a result of the combined effects of exploitation and increased pollution. The ability to meet increasing demands while protecting the quality and biologicla integrity of our water resources is a compelling challenge. Evaluation of the aquatic biota is recognized as a valuable tool in assessing water quality. The benthos (those organisms occurring within or upon the substrate for at least part of their life cycles) are particularly useful in detecting environmental disturbance resulting from introduced contaminants due to their limited mobility, relatively long life spans, and sensitivity to environmental stress. Characteristics of the benthos not only reflect environmental conditions at the time of sampling, but also during the recent past, thus providing a more comprehensive analysis than periodic chemical sampling. Benthic species occupy virtually all trophic levels in aquatic ecosystems and are especially important in the processing of organic matter and the recycling of nutrients. The benthos is an essential component of the food web, vital to the existence of higher forms such as fish. Many benthic invertebrates, such as marine and freshwater shellfish, are important commercial and recreational species. Other such as blackflies, biting midges, and Asiatic clams are significant public health nuisances or simple pests. Knowledge of the benthos of Texas waters is far from complete - much remains to be done to characterize the taxonomy, systematics, biology, and ecology of benthos throughout the state. This symposium was organized to stimulate interest and research in benthic ecology and to bring together freshwater and marine benthic ecologists for an interchange of ideas. Publication of the proceedings was initiated to provide a vehicle for economical, prompt publication, and rapid dissemination of recent benthological data.