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Marine plants of Tanzania, a field guide to the seawater and seagrasses
Oliveira, E.C.; Österlund, K.; Mtolera, M. (2005). Marine plants of Tanzania, a field guide to the seawater and seagrasses. Botany Department, Stockholm University: Sweden. ISBN 91-631-6510-4. 267 pp.

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    Seaweeds; Marine

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  • Oliveira, E.C.
  • Österlund, K.
  • Mtolera, M.

    This is a book about the macroscopic plants of Tanzania, namely the seaweedsd or benthic macroscopic algea and the seagrasses, that are marine flowering plants.Having flourished in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, taxonomic studies then became less popular and the emphasis of biological investigations turned to other aspects of biology. However, after realising how important the conservation off biodiversity is, we are now experiencing a new interest in a more naturalistic approach to biology. But today this "romantic" approach is often fuelled by extensive bioprospection, the search of new drugs and gene conservation for use in transgenic organisms of commercial value. This in itself could justify the production of a new book to stimulate interest in such a diversified group as the marine plants. The paramount importance of marine pmolants as primary producers, fixing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the process of photosynthesis, is obvious. In addition, benthic marine plants provide food, shelter, spawning areas and structural framework for a multitude of animals. In spite of their importance, they have largely gone unnoticed, and remain poorly known in most coastal areas of the world.Thanks to pioneering and excellent work by erik Jaasund, who published his Seaweeds in Tanzania in 1976, the marine plants of Tanzania did not go unnoticed. Seaweeds in Tanzania provides thorough species descriptions and excellent drawings, many of which are reprinted in this book, but it has been out of print for many years. In addition, it does not include seaweeds found below the low tide line nor seagrasses and it is based on material collected in the 1960s. Another excellent book, A guide to the seahores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean islands, edited by M. Richmond was recently published. This is, however, a more general field guide and, although beautifully illustrated, includes only a small fraction of the marine plants of Tanzania and lacks identification keys.The amateur naturalist, as well as the biology student, lack an accessible text that would help them identify and learn more qbout these organisms. The purpose of this book is to provide students and the interested layman with basic information about the most common seaweeds and seagrasses of Tanzania. Therefore, we have restricted the botanical jargon to a necessary minimum. To make the identification process easier, we also provide colour photographs supplemented by illustrations and identification keys.The content of this book is based on collections made especially for the book by K. Österlund and E. Oliveira during several visits to Tanzania in 1995-2000. Material was collected during low-water spring tides, using snorkel or SCUBA diving gear. We have also studied material deposited at herbaria in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar Town,, Gothenburg and London (The British Museum and The Natural History Museum°. The excellent work by E. Jaasund (1976) and the monumental publication of Silva, Basson and Moe (1996) have been instrumental to our work. Other small publications scattered in several scientific journals were also perused, although references are not given here.

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