A review of the role of fish as biological control agents of disease vector mosquitoes in mangrove forests: reducing human health risks while reducing environmental risk
The saltwater mosquito, Aedes vigilax, is prolific in coastal wetlands including mangroves and saltmarshes. Ae. vigilax is a vector for arboviruses such as Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses, with significant consequences for human health and economic productivity. In Australia the dominant form of mosquito control is chemicals. For mangroves, this is because there is a critical lack of knowledge supporting alternative approaches, such as environmental modification or biological control using larvivorous fish. This review examines the potential of fish as biological agents for the control of mosquito larvae in mangroves. We consider two key aspects: how larvivorous fish use mangroves; and can larvivorous fish reduce larval mosquito populations sufficiently to provide effective mosquito control? The link between fish and mangroves is reasonably well established, where mangroves act as refuge habitat for small and juvenile fish. Also, research has established that fish can be significant predators of mosquitoes, and therefore may be effective control agents. However, studies of fish activity within mangroves are limited to study of the fringe of the mangroves and not the internal structure of mangrove basins and as a result, fish populations within these areas remain unstudied. Also, until recently there was little appreciation of the mangrove-mosquito habitat relationship and, as a consequence, the importance of the mangrove basin as the key mosquito habitat has also been overlooked in the literature. Similarly, the predator/prey relationships between fish and mosquitoes within mangrove basin environments also remain unstudied, and therefore the importance of fish for mosquito management in mangrove basins is not known. There are substantial knowledge gaps regarding the potential of fish in controlling larval mosquitoes in mangroves. The gaps include: understanding of how larvivorous fish use mangrove basins; the nature of the fish-mosquito predator/prey relationship in mangrove basins; and whether larvivorous fish are effective as a mosquito control option in mangroves.
Wetlands Ecology and Management
Ecology not elsewhere classified