Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can We Restore Wetlands And Leave the Mosquitoes Out?

26.05.2004


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


Sweetwater Wetland, built in 1996 to help treat secondary effluent from the adjacent wastewater treatment plant, is well-managed, says UA entomologist Elizabeth Willott.


American coots, one of the many species that use the wildlife habitat provided by Tucson’s Sweetwater Wetland



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?”

Kara Rogers | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://uanews.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/UANews.woa/4/wa/SRStoryDetails?ArticleID=9253

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>