Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can We Restore Wetlands And Leave The Mosquitoes Out?

Date:
May 27, 2004
Source:
University Of Arizona
Summary:
When it comes to restoring nature, some members of the natural world are shunned for good reason. Restoring wetlands has a foreseeable and inevitable downside: the creation of mosquito habitat.

Sweetwater Wetland, built in 1996 to help treat secondary effluent from the adjacent wastewater treatment plant, is well-managed, says UA entomologist Elizabeth Willott.
Credit: Photo courtesy of University Of Arizona

When it comes to restoring nature, some members of the natural world are shunned for good reason.

Restoring wetlands has a foreseeable and inevitable downside: the creation of mosquito habitat.

Breeding disease-transmitting mosquitoes isn't just a surprising side effect of creating wetlands, but an inevitable and foreseeable consequence that must be acknowledged when planning wetland restoration projects, said Elizabeth Willott, an assistant professor in the department of entomology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Wetlands do have benefits for people, she said. "Wetlands clean water, help in flood control, provide habitat and have aesthetic value." Even so, she said that environmental ethics require taking into consideration that after a wetland is restored or created, people's exposure to mosquito-borne diseases may increase.

To realize the impact that mosquitoes can have, just consider the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. In just a few years, West Nile virus, first found in the United States in New York, has already spread as far as Washington state and Arizona.

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria, encephalitis and West Nile virus, can be just one bite away. In the 1800s, when Tucson's now-dry river beds had water more regularly, malaria was present in the Tucson basin.

Although malaria is not present in the Tucson area now, Arizona's West Nile virus season has already begun.

"Several obstacles block people from frankly discussing mosquito problems," writes Willott in her paper "Restoring Nature, Without Mosquitoes?" The article will be published in the June issue of Restoration Ecology.

The short-term nature of funding is one problem. Another is the fear that bringing up negative aspects of a wetland restoration project makes it more likely the project will be rejected. However, Willott suggests that a proposal is strengthened by explicitly addressing mosquito control.

Willott will discuss the ethical questions arising from wetland restoration at the first Future Trends in Environmental Philosophy conference, to be held June 1-4 at the Highlands Center in Allanspark, Colo. Her talk, "Restoring Nature, Without Mosquitoes?" and the discussion that follows will be held on Tuesday, June 1, 7 - 9 p.m.

Her work was supported in part by a fellowship from UA's Institute for the Study of Planet Earth and UA's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy.

Ultimately, the location and ecology of a restored wetland will determine whether intervention is necessary -- or even possible -- to control mosquito populations.

The social climate of a region also plays a role. "When we restore wetlands we not only alter nature in a particular spot, we also typically alter social contexts," she said. "We also want to build healthy, sustainable human communities." The upsides and downsides of restoring a wetland should be addressed before a project begins. She said that considering all aspects allows better decision-making about what is best for the community as well as the wildlife.

Willott cites the Sweetwater Wetland in Tucson, Ariz., as a good example of a well-managed, human-made wetland. The wetland is monitored regularly for mosquitoes and a range of tactics are used to keep mosquito populations at bay. At Sweetwater, those tactics include managing the vegetation and using biological insecticides to keep mosquitoes populations down.

Historically, mosquito problems were often dealt with by just draining or filling in wetlands. More recently, broad-spectrum chemical pesticides have been used in the United States for mosquito control. Willott says there are better ways to manage mosquito problems.

"What is best depends on both the local ecological and social contexts," Willott said. "We need to know answers to questions such as: What mosquito species are present? What threats do these pose for people? If the threat is significant and mosquitoes need to be controlled, we must also ask: How can mosquitoes be managed effectively in this location and in such a way that there is minimal risk from our management strategy?"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Arizona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Arizona. "Can We Restore Wetlands And Leave The Mosquitoes Out?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040526063740.htm>.
University Of Arizona. (2004, May 27). Can We Restore Wetlands And Leave The Mosquitoes Out?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040526063740.htm
University Of Arizona. "Can We Restore Wetlands And Leave The Mosquitoes Out?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040526063740.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins