Paperback / softback
September 8, 2008
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v2.1 Reference

The Algal Bowl

Overfertilization of the World's Freshwaters and Estuaries

The greatest threat to water quality worldwide is nutrient pollution. Cultural eutrophication by nutrients in sewage, fertilizers, and detergents is feeding massive algal blooms, choking out aquatic life and outpacing heavy metals, oil spills, and other toxins in the devastation wrought upon the world's fresh waters. Renowned water scientists, David W. Schindler and John R. Vallentyne, share their combined 80 years of experience with the eutrophication problem to explain its history and science, and offer real-world solutions for mitigating this catastrophe in the making. For those who have lost sight of Vallentyne's 1974 first edition, Schindler's fully revised and expanded edition is an unambiguous road map for change.

About the Authors

David W. Schindler (1940-2021), O.C., F.R.S.C., F.R.S., was Killam Memorial Chair and Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He received numerous awards for his work, including the first Stockholm Water Prize (1991), the Volvo Environment Prize (1998), the NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering (2001), and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2006). John R. Vallentyne (1926-2007) began the eutrophication dialogue in the 1970s. He helped establish new centres of freshwater research in Manitoba and Ontario, championed the investigation of pollution in the Lower Great Lakes, and was Senior Scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He received the Rachel Carson Prize for his work.


"Schindler and Vallentyne describe in minute detail how and why this 'cultural' eutrophication, or human-caused plant-food glut, has come to be, giving a satisfying nod to the scientists who began working on the phenomenon during the last century. There is a lucid examination of several bodies of water that are slimed with algae and some attempts at recovery, as well as a beautiful description of several lakes where these authors and other ecologists have performed whole-lake experiments to understand better how the whole works. It is impeccable empirical science, written with vigour and precision. Among its other charms, this is an excellent textbook. But this is a cloak of many colours. The Algal Bowl is also a work of scientific poetry.. Even more compelling, though, is the book's touching show of faith in Homo sapiens and our ability to face up to the disastrous changes we have wrought to the Earth's capacity to support life. The final chapter puts the issue of lake eutrophication into the larger puzzle of planetary change and avers that if we can tackle this piece, we can tackle the whole thing. It is a prescription for hope. It is touching because few planetary diagnosticians know the full state of the illness better than Schindler. He may be a world expert on lakes and their algal colonies, but he is also one of the world's experts on how the planet works as a whole. From the lake system to the planetary system is not such a big leap for someone of Schindler's intellect.. And when Schindler tells us, as he does in the penultimate paragraph of this book that the time to begin considering the social changes necessary to protect freshwater is 'NOW' (his emphasis), I think we had better listen." Alanna Mitchell, Literary Review of Canada, September 2008

"The first Algal Bowl was a classic and really was influential for both the study of lakes and for people who appreciated the environment, especially the eutrophication of lakes. David Schindler is the ideal co-author for a new edition." Daniel Conley, University of Lund, Sweden

"The previous edition was a milestone in its time. Both authors are outstanding and well-known. I believe that there is a worldwide need for this book." Martin Dokulil, Institute for Limnology, Austria

"Environmental science gets a boost with The Algal Bowl; a study by two of the world's leading water scientists of the importance of protecting Earth's water systems from massive algae blooms." Edmonton Journal, Christmas Gift Guide, November 19, 2008

Bookmark -

"The Algal Bowl is by no means a page-turner. Nor was it intended to be. But it should be required reading for every politician, civil servant, farmer, fisherman, hunter, paddler and cottage owner who has any stake in the management of freshwater in western North America. Like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the Algal Bowl has the potential to disrupt ecosystems, displace human populations and cause tremendous economic hardship. Those who doubt that possibility need only look at several populous Third World countries where potable freshwater is now a thing of the past." Ed Struzik, Edmonton Journal, April 5, 2009

"David Schindler, the University of Alberta biology professor and champion of environmental causes, will be given a prestigious award for his efforts to help the Canadian public and the world better understand science....Schindler was chosen for the award because he is, said Roy Pearson, president of the institute, 'a scientist who is able to bridge the gap between the lab and people.' Throughout his career Schindler has worked tirelessly to break new ground as a researcher on two subjects close to his heart: fresh water and the boreal forest. His credentials in the field and laboratory are matched by his status as an eloquent translator of complicated science. Schindler is seen as a leading communicator of environmental science, but he's a little surprised he's getting this award. Past winners include David Suzuki and Nobel Prize winner John Polyani.... To Schindler, being a conduit to the world of science is a welcomed and required part of the job. 'The public supports all the luxurious things that university researchers do so certainly the public has a right to know the relevance of research that can affect their lives.'" Brian Murphy, ExpressNews, May 6, 2009 (Full article at:

"Anyone who loves a freshwater lake has probably watched it become less pristine due to human activity. Scum-covered rocks, weeds and dirty water are all symptoms of why authors Schindler and Vallentyne have re-sounded the alarm first given in the early seventies about the degradation of our lakes due to over-fertilization, erosion and run-off. With a concise and thorough approach, they explain how this problem affects us locally and globally, and how it is a logical first step in facing the world's many environmental challenges. This book proves we have the knowledge and tools; civilization just needs the will to do the right thing. If not, we'll end up with something akin to the Dust Bowl of the American Plains in the thirties — giant bowls of green algae instead of clear and healthy freshwater lakes."

"Vallentyne, who passed away during Schindler's revision of the book, originally wrote it to highlight humanity's 'cavalier treatment of lakes.' He predicted that by 2000 the degradation of lakes would be akin to the destruction of soil quality during the Great Depression. Much of what Vallentyne predicted has come true. As such, The Algal Bowl places a premium on communicating scientific information to a broad audience.... an excellent crash course in the politics and ecology of lakes." Jay Smith, Alberta Views, September 2009

"This work, an updated version of Vallentyne's The Algal Bowl: Lakes and Man (1974), allows readers not only to discover an early environmental classic, but also to learn which of the book's suppositions have come to pass over the intervening 35 years. The title alludes to the Dust Bowl (a US terrestrial disaster caused by mismanaged western agriculture in the 1930s) for the parallel aquatic disaster of human-induced eutrophication in North American water bodies. Ironically, the book portrays the shift in eutrophication from east to west in the past three decades, and the successes and failures in protecting our waters in a variety of circumstances....This book is written for and valuable to lay readers, policy enthusiasts, wetlands professionals, and professors and their undergraduate students interested in environmental consequences and actions. Highly recommended." C.W. Schneider, Trinity College, CHOICE Magazine, September 2009

"I have read with great interest, The Algal Bowl, a book which provides an in depth scientific perspective on the problems of algae on lakes like Lake Winnipeg and Killarney Lake in Manitoba. It is a really good book and recommended reading for anyone interested in decreasing the algal problems in Manitoba's lakes." Jon Gerrard, MLA, January 22, 2010 [Full post at]

"The fish-killing blooms that devastated the Great Lakes in the 1960s and 1970s haven't gone away; they've moved west into an arid world in which people, industry, and agriculture are increasingly taxing the quality of what little freshwater there is to be had here....This isn't just a prairie problem. Global expansion of dead zones caused by algal blooms is rising rapidly....[David Schindler] has won virtually every national and international award honouring his profession. Politicians, civil servants, farmers, fisherman, hunters, paddlers, and cottagers should pay attention to this book from him and his mentor. Otherwise, the lazy, hazy days of summer will soon be a regularly occurring nightmare." Ed Struzik, Legacy, Fall 2009

"As we've come to know over the last decade, Lake Winnipeg is under ecological siege. It's over-loaded with nutrients and is well into a process called eutrophication. The lake is literally dying. The lake is literally dying.... So how do we make a difference?... Learn more about the wonderful dynamics of the aquatic ecosystem. Learn about the limits to its adaptability. You'll find that there is a cascade of problems that emerge when a lake is locked in that process called eutrophication. Pick up Schindler's book The Algal Bowl to better understand the global dimensions of nutrient loading and other stuff you never dreamed of." Jim Mosher, Interlake Spectator, posted June 2010 [Full article at]

9780888644848 : the-algal-bowl-schindler-vallentyne
Paperback / softback
348 Pages
$34.95 USD

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