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Nature Ecology

The Peace-Athabasca Delta

Portrait of a Dynamic Ecosystem

by (author) Kevin P. Timoney

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
Ecology, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


"In the delta, water is boss, change is the only constant, and creation and destruction exist side by side." The Peace-Athabasca Delta in northern Alberta is a globally significant wetland that lies within one of the largest unfragmented landscapes in North America. Arguably the world's largest boreal inland delta, it is renowned for its biological productivity and is a central feature of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet the delta and its indigenous cultures lie downstream of Alberta's bitumen sands, whose exploitation comprises one of the largest industrial projects in the world. Kevin Timoney provides an authoritative synthesis of the science and history of the delta, describing its ecology, unraveling its millennia-long history, and addressing its uncertain future. Scientists, students, leaders in the energy sector, government officials and policy makers, and conscientious citizens everywhere should read this lively work.

About the author

Kevin P. Timoney, ecologist, researcher, teacher, and writer, is committed to solving complex environmental and ecological problems. He has devoted the past 20 years to studying the ecology and dynamics of The Peace-Athabasca Delta. He lives in Ardrossan, Alberta.

Kevin P. Timoney's profile page


  • Commended, The Alcuin Society Citations for Excellence in Book Design in Canada - Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, Reference
  • Winner, Lane Anderson Award
  • Winner, Scholarly Book of the Year - Alberta Book Publishing Awards

Editorial Reviews

"This large and comprehensive work provides a detailed view of the Peace-Athabasca delta in Canada, one of the largest inland deltas of the world.... Because of its length (it is almost 600 pages), it is difficult in a short review to do justice to this detailed and engaging work.... According to the author, the book is a synthesis of what is known about the delta, an environmental history, a reference book, and a field guide. It is all of these. The book is intended for a wide audience including natural scientists; those involved in the management, health, and policy of natural systems; naturalists; engineers in government and non-governmental organizations; and students and teachers of ecological and environmental studies. The book...should be of interest to ecologists and environmental scientists generally as a compendium of information on one of the more important wetland ecosystems of the world." [DOI:]

Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research

"As Dr. Timoney makes perfectly clear in this beautifully written and illustrated book, the Peace-Athabasca Delta is a world treasure. The author has written a book based on scientific evidence, and he has done so with passion. This is an important book that should be read by scientists, naturalists, and anyone who is concerned about the environmental degradation of our planet." John P. Smol, OC, PhD, FRSC, Department of Biology, Queen's University

"This book systematically brings together significant contributions by scientists and non-scientists-such as trappers, fishermen, wardens, naturalists-and incorporates substantial field observations by the author and colleagues. Hence, the 'portrait' is an amazing synthesis of the combined efforts of hundreds of people. Nothing else like it exists." George H. La Roi, Emeritus Professor of Plant Ecology and Vegetation Science, University of Alberta

"The book provides a broad overview of everything in the Peace-Athabasca Delta from the plant and animal life in the wetland, to the changes it has seen environmentally and physically, to the effect humanity has had on the area."

The Sherwood Park-Strathcona County News

"An environmental researcher in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Timoney profiles the delta that has developed where the Peace River empties into Lake Athabasca in northern Alberta, characterizing it as a wetland jewel within one of the largest unfragmented landscapes in North America. He discusses the delta as a physical and biological system, processes of change, the history of environmental change, human activity, and the future. Among specific topics are physical environment and landforms, fauna and wildlife, climate and climate change, the natural and historical records of change, human history before the 20th century, and human effects on the delta region. Color maps and other illustrations abound." 2013 Book News Inc.

"Kevin P. Timoney...has given us a rich portrait that, like all great works, feels stirringly true and proves deeply troubling at the same time. To say this book is timely and relevant would be an understatement.... Those looking for sensationalism, or expecting bleakness, won't find any here. This book is an attempt to reach out to all sides and improve the quality of the conversation.... Dealing in facts, and free of any alienating rhetoric, the details in the book accumulate like sediment, culminating in a reading experience that is new, complex and potentially life-changing." Brenda Schmidt, October 28, 2013 [Full review at]

"Like the delta, this book of [Timoney's] is a jewel.... [It] provides a clear understanding of the region, its history, ecology and issues and in doing so Timoney has set a standard for books of this nature.... [Peace-Athabasca Delta] provides a blueprint in terms of the type of information we need and how to best present it to allow us to make better, informed decisions." Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook [Full review at]

Like much of northern Canada, the Peace-Athabasca Delta is little known, little studied, but a fascinating and significant place... Kevin Timoney’s magnum opus attempts to synthesize a career dedicated to the Delta into a book that is 'an environmental history, a reference book, and a field guide' (p. 10). It largely succeeds in this endeavour, and it is gorgeous with a generous number of glossy maps and photos... [T]his book manages the unusual feat of being useful for lay readers and ... academics..." [Full article at doi: 10.1093/envhis/emv185]

Environmental History

"The judges were unanimous in their love of the elegant, understated cover of this book, the most 'honest' in the group. The design shows restraint and modesty in the service of functionality, which is a smart choice for such complex material."