1998. H. Faure, K. Heine and A. Singhvi (Eds) Proceedings of IGCP-349/IGCP-404/INQUA Commission on Carbon conference. Palaeoecology of Africa, 25, 1-301. ISBN 90 54104511 ISSN 0168-6208, A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam.
This volume contains 22 papers, written in English and French, concerned with late Pleistocene environmental changes in dryland regions, principally in Africa. The papers are grouped geographically into four sections, namely: Mauritania and West Africa; Sahara and Sahel of Northeast Africa; the arid belt from Israel to China; arid regions in general.
Of the 22 papers, only one is concerned with primarily microfossils: this is the chapter by Ingeborg Soulié-Märsche of fossil populations of the charophyte Lamprothamnium papulosam from northern Mauritania. In this chapter, Soulié-Märsche uses finds of L. papulosam to infer low-salinity conditions in areas that our now Sebkhas, during a mid-Holocene humid period. A brief overview of the palaeoenvironmental significance of charophytes is also provided. Other papers include only passing reference to biological remains: Fall and colleagues describe a carbon isotope record from Senegalese peat, and make passing references to pollen and plant macrofossils and the paper by Donner mentions gastropods and foraminifers in the study of playa sediments from the Western Desert, Egypt.
Despite the fact that microfossils are commonly used as tools in Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, there is very little that will be of direct interest either to palaeontologists or micropalaeontologists. That said, the book is well produced and contains much that will be of interest to Quaternary scientists and arid-zone geomorphologists with geographical leanings towards drylands in general and to Africa in particular.
University College London, UK