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Potential negative impacts and low effectiveness in the use of African annual killifish in the biocontrol of aquatic mosquito larvae in temporary water bodies

Martin Reichard1*, Brian R Watters2, Rudolf H Wildekamp3, Rainer Sonnenberg4, Béla Nagy5, Matej Polačik6, Stefano Valdesalici7, Alessandro Cellerino8, Barry J Cooper9, Holger Hengstler10, John Rosenstock11 and Ian Sainthouse12

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Květná 8, 603 65 Brno, Czech Republic

2 Department of Geology, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan S4 S 0A2, Canada

3 Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium

4 Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Adenauerallee 160, D-53113 Bonn, Germany

5 30, rue du Mont Ussy, 77300 Fontainebleau, France

6 Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Květná 8, 603 65 Brno, Czech Republic

7 Via Ca' Bertacchi 5, 42030 Viano (RE), Italy

8 Biology of Aging, Leibniz Institute for Age Research - Fritz Lipmann Institute, Beutenbergstr. 11, 07745 Jena, Germany & Scuola Normale Superiore, Plazza dei Cavalieri 6, 56100 Pisa, Italy

9 Professor Emeritus, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

10 Tegernseerlandstraße 42, 81541 Munich, Germany

11 Scandinavian Killifish Association, Copenhagen, Denmark

12 22 Horton Road, Slapton, Leighton Buzzard, Beds., LU7 9DB, UK

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Parasites & Vectors 2010, 3:89  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-3-89

Published: 16 September 2010


Commentary and discussion on a recent paper promoting the use of Nothobranchius guentheri, a small African annual fish from the Island of Zanzibar as a tool to control mosquito larvae in temporary bodies of freshwater throughout Africa is presented.

Arguments on major points; (1) expected low success of annual fish introductions, (2) low success of mosquito control in the field, (3) ecological threats, and (4) ethical issues are detailed.

Despite serious problems with mosquito-borne diseases in tropical Africa and elsewhere, we encourage responsible means of biological control of parasite vectors. We show that effectiveness of Nothobranchius translocations is low (the previous attempts failed), likelihood of effective mosquito larvae control under field condition is negligible and ecological threats from Nothobranchius translocations from within and outside the naturally occurring range are serious. We advocate against the proposed next step of the project, i.e. field trials in Tanzania.