A general outline is given of the development and successive phases of the science of inland waters, variously encompassing ‘limnology’, ‘hydrobiology’ and ‘freshwater biology’. Three periods — pre-1930, 1930–1970 and 1970–present — are arbitrarily but conveniently distinguished. In the first, emphasis is given to the original contributions of pioneers; in the second, to the fuller development of fields of enquiry; and in the third to wider environmental-ecological linkages and outlooks. Example-situations and biographical involvements are illustrated by excerpts from the original literature.
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