Forest Restoration and the Zoonotic Vector Anopheles balabacensis in Sabah, Malaysia

Gael Davidson, Peter Speldewinde, Benny Obrain Manin, Angus Cook, Philip Weinstein, Tock H. Chua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropogenic changes to forest cover have been linked to an increase in zoonotic diseases. In many areas, natural forests are being replaced with monoculture plantations, such as oil palm, which reduce biodiversity and create a mosaic of landscapes with increased forest edge habitat and an altered micro-climate. These altered conditions may be facilitating the spread of the zoonotic malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi in Sabah, on the island of Borneo, through changes to mosquito vector habitat. We conducted a study on mosquito abundance and diversity in four different land uses comprising restored native forest, degraded native forest, an oil palm estate and a eucalyptus plantation, these land uses varying in their vegetation types and structure. The main mosquito vector, Anopheles balabacensis, has adapted its habitat preference from closed canopy rainforest to more open logged forest and plantations. The eucalyptus plantations (Eucalyptus pellita) assessed in this study contained significantly higher abundance of many mosquito species compared with the other land uses, whereas the restored dipterocarp forest had a low abundance of all mosquitos, in particular, An. balabacensis. No P. knowlesi was detected by PCR assay in any of the vectors collected during the study; however, P. inui, P. fieldi and P. vivax were detected in An. balabacensis. These findings indicate that restoring degraded natural forests with native species to closed canopy conditions reduces abundance of this zoonotic malarial mosquito vector and therefore should be incorporated into future restoration research and potentially contribute to the control strategies against simian malaria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Early online date27 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


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