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Managing mosquitoes without destroying wetlands: an eastern Australian approach


Recognising both the importance of intertidal wetlands and their role in mosquito-borne disease we discuss wise management to conserve wetland values and to reduce vector borne disease health risks. First we summarise the mosquito-borne diseases associated with intertidal wetlands in sub-tropical and tropical Australia. We consider the Ramsar Strategic Plan, its reflection in some key Australian statutes and the relationship between environment-focussed legislation and health legislation. This is followed by a brief overview of mosquito control and its impact on human health. Using a salt marsh example of an integrated process, we describe the development of what was, in the 1980s in Australia, a novel method of habitat modification (runnelling) for mosquito control. Runnelling modifies the tidal water flow on salt marshes, reducing mosquito larval numbers and minimising environmental impacts. The approach is related to two of the Ramsar goals (wise use and institutional capacity and effectiveness). We then describe the extension of its rationale to a complex mangrove system. Finally, with a concept model, we consider the convergence between minimal habitat modification for wetland conservation and human health protection using an interdisicplinary approach involving multiple stakeholders.

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We thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. In developing this paper we have relied on the many years of collaboration with: state governments (Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries; Department of Environment and Resource Management; Department of Health) and local governments, especially the Gold Coast City Council who also provided vital in-kind support and Tweed Shire Council for valuable advice. For the New South Wales (NSW) project we especially thank Tweed Shire council mosquito managers Clive Easton and Brian Falkner for sharing their knowledge and for field assistance, NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts, Fisheries Ecosystems Branch, Industry and Investment NSW, NSW Land and Property Management Authority. We thank too our many university colleagues and Dale family and student assistants who have provided inputs to the project dating back to the 1980 s. Over several decades funding has been provided from diverse sources. The main ones have been the Australian Research Council (Grants: C19906833; C00001962; LP0211583), Gold Coast City Council, the Queensland Department of Health and the Mosquito and Arbovirus Research Committee.

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Correspondence to P. E. R. Dale.

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Dale, P.E.R., Knight, J.M. Managing mosquitoes without destroying wetlands: an eastern Australian approach. Wetlands Ecol Manage 20, 233–242 (2012).

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  • Australia
  • Ramsar
  • Saltwater mosquito
  • Salt marsh
  • Mangroves
  • Mosquito-borne disease
  • Human health