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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new website, developed by the Florida Bed Bug Workgroup and the University of Florida, provides resources for anyone concerned about bed bugs, from college students living away from home for the first time to pest control professionals and landlords.
The Florida Bed Bug Workgroup includes members from numerous state government offices and agencies, including UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the state departments of education and health, the hospitality and housing industry, and several private industry groups.
“The workgroup’s goal is to raise consumer awareness of bed bugs to minimize the spread of these tenacious pests,” said Faith Oi, an assistant extension scientist in UF’s entomology and nematology department who help oversee the website’s creation.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To help the University of Florida raise $1.5 million needed to build the new Austin Cary Forest Learning Center, the Jacksonville-based forest products company Rayonier has donated $75,000.
The donation was celebrated at a ceremony today in the 2,040-acre Austin Cary Forest, located about six miles northeast of Gainesville. It was attended by Rayonier executives and administrators from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The funds will support a 7,800 square-foot building that includes a spacious conference room, a classroom, library, kitchen, gallery and large wrap-around porch. It will include an elevated deck built out over the surface of Lake Mize. With high ceilings, clean lines and large timbers, the building is designed to complement its natural surroundings.
The learning center is needed to replace the Austin Cary Forest Conference Center that opened in 1986, remembered by thousands of current and former Alachua County residents as a place where UF classes met and special events were held. That building was destroyed by fire in July 2011.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Creating virtual plants could solve real problems, such as reducing vitamin deficiencies in humans, according to University of Florida researchers.
They are developing databases and computer models to show how and where B vitamins are made in plants, knowledge scientists believe they can use to guide plant breeding projects, such as increasing plants’ vitamin contents, leading to more nutritious foods.
The research is detailed in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany as part of the Darwin Review series.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For humans, gender is one of the defining characteristics of life, but for papayas, it’s more like a work in progress.
This tropical fruit crop reproduces sexually, meaning there are male and female papaya trees. But there’s also a third type with the reproductive capacity of both genders. This type is called a hermaphrodite and, unlike male or female plants, it can self-pollinate.
Now, a study involving current University of Florida researcher Jianping Wang helps explain how the plant’s sex chromosomes evolved over time to produce the three genders. Wang was lead author of the paper and performed the work while a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The findings, published last week by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shed light on evolutionary processes. The data might also have practical value for papaya growers, who say they get bigger yields and better fruit from hermaphroditic plants.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feral hogs wreak havoc on Florida’s natural areas but a new University of Florida study shows that control measures often fail; now, researchers are investigating how the animals outwit removal efforts.
“Feral hogs are definitely one of our more noticeable invasive animal issues on the Treasure Coast,” said Ken Gioeli, a St. Lucie County extension agent. “People have been struggling to deal with the populations and we want to offer them better options.”
The study appears in the summer issue of the journal Aquatics, a publication of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society.
Florida has the nation’s second-highest population of feral hogs, after Texas. The animals are especially common north and west of Lake Okeechobee, and in the coastal Big Bend area, Gioeli said. They roam in groups and damage forest ecosystems by rooting in the soil and wallowing in shallow water. It’s believed that feral hog damage costs landowners and agricultural producers millions of dollars nationwide.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It might appear that the only people who profit from Florida’s forests are landowners, but a new University of Florida study says the trees provide valuable services to land users and people in surrounding communities.
As forests grow, they filter water, store carbon and perform other helpful functions that are known collectively as ecosystem services. These services are often overlooked by the public but UF researchers found a way to estimate their dollar value, which can exceed $5,000 per acre over 20 years.
Results from the two-year study, called the Stewardship Ecosystem Services Survey Project, were just published at http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/cfeor/SESS.html
Researchers hope the report increases awareness of the benefits of forestland and the opportunities that exist for Florida landowners, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
“This is a groundbreaking study for Florida, because it actually gets into the numbers,” Payne said. “It establishes dollar values for some—not all, but some—of the benefits that forests create for our residents and visitors.”