Running waters are enormously diverse, ranging from torrential mountain brooks, to large lowland rivers, to great river systems whose basins occupy subcontinents. While this diversity makes river ecosystems seem overwhelmingly complex, a central theme of this volume is that the processes acting in running waters are general, although the settings are often unique. The past two decades have seen major advances in our knowledge of the ecology of streams and rivers. New paradigms have emerged, such as the river continuum and nutrient spiraling. Community ecologists have made impressive advances in documenting the occurrence of species interactions. The importance of physical processes in rivers has attracted increased attention, particularly the areas of hydrology and geomorphology, and the inter-relationships between physical and biological factors have become better understood. And as is true for every area of ecology during the closing years of the twentieth century it has become apparent that the study of streams and rivers cannot be carried out by excluding the role of human activities, nor can we ignore the urgency of the need for conservation. These developments are brought together in Stream Ecology: Structure and function of running waters, designed to serve as a text for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and as a reference book for specialists in stream ecology and related fields.