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Lake Baikal is the oldest lake and largest freshwater reservoir in the world. As a result of its exceptionally long geological history, the lake has been a theatre of evolution and speciation of organisms, and it currently harbors more species than any other lake in the world. Based on its unique nature, Lake Baikal was recently designated a World Heritage site and is regarded as a hotspot for evolution, speciation, and biodiversity. With its tremendously peculiar biota, Lake Baikal is now awaiting modern analytical approaches to the profound problems of speciation and evolution. In late autumn 1998 a symposium was held in Japan with the theme "Lake Baikal: A mirror in time and space for understanding global change processes" to bring together scientists from different disciplines who are studying Lake Baikal. Three international scientific associations: The BICER (Baikal International Center for Ecological Research), BDP (Baikal Drilling Project), and DIWPA (Diversitas Western Pacific and Asia) were involved in the organisation.
This book contains a selection of papers presented at this symposium. They are interdisciplinary in nature and bring together results from geology, paleontology, chemistry, biology, limnology and physics.