CEDAR KEY, Fla. — The University of Florida’s new Nature Coast Biological Station will receive a grant to evaluate the spotted seatrout fishery in the Big Bend region. The grant, for $20,000, is provided by The Conservation Fund, a national organization that funds conservation projects that improve local businesses.
The grant is one of five projects from the Conservation Fund that support the priorities of Florida’s four Big Bend counties—Dixie, Jefferson, Levy and Taylor. The region will receive more than $85,000 through the Big Bend Seed Grant program and leverage an additional $240,000 in impact.
The project at the Nature Coast Biological Station, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will assess tagging effectiveness for spotted seatrout, and include an angler survey and workshop to evaluate angler satisfaction with the current management of the fishery. The study will include cooperation from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the group plans to tag fish around Cedar Key and Steinhatchee.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While most Floridians are focused on hurricanes and the flooding they cause, few realize that Tampa Bay sea levels are rising each year. The rise in sea levels will impact everything from homes to bridges to businesses for the next century, scientists say.
Despite the warning, city planners have been stymied in their efforts to create strategies to combat sea level rise because of varying projections from different agencies. Thus, scientists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences formed a committee to offer a unified projection of sea level rise. Now, the committee has released a report detailing projections through the year 2100.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has accepted the recommendations for distribution to local governments.
Researchers working on an oyster bar survey off of the coast of Cedar Key, Florida.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Oysters thrive under brackish conditions, and now a University of Florida study reveals that the bivalves can actually help create the mix of fresh water and brine they crave.
While evaluating a new method of restoring degraded oyster reefs, researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Engineering confirmed an observation that Cedar Key-area oystermen have made for years – some oyster reefs act as natural dams, impounding fresh water that flows seaward from nearby creeks and rivers.
The result: large areas of reduced-salinity water that help maintain near-shore estuarine habitats supporting oysters, sea grasses, juvenile game fish and invertebrates important to the marine food chain as well as seafood production and recreational opportunities for people.
This finding, published in a report available at http://www.projects.tnc.org/coastal, could aid ecological and fishery restoration projects along Florida’s Big Bend Coast, a largely undeveloped area bordering the Gulf of Mexico between Wakulla and Pasco counties, said project leader Peter Frederick, a professor with UF/IFAS’ Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.
The Big Bend Coast is one of the nation’s few coastal areas featuring numerous oyster reefs that run parallel to shore and stand above the water’s surface at low tide. The study site, off the Levy County coast, is a chain of oyster reefs punctuated by a few openings that allow seawater to mix with fresh water that the reef holds back as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico from the Suwannee River.
“We’ve known about other ecosystem services that oyster reefs provide, like acting as breakwaters that reduce the impact of wave action on the shore,” Frederick said. “But the role of oyster reefs in modulating the salinity of water near the shore had not been demonstrated before.” (more …)
Grouper and assorted seafood fillets on display at a store in case. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — October is National Seafood Month, and Florida Sea Grant has spotlighted the safety and variety of the state’s seafood products with a special report published in the September issue of Florida Trend magazine.
Although the average Floridian’s seafood consumption is twice the national average – 31 pounds per year, compared with 15 – a recent Florida Sea Grant survey indicates that 40 percent of state residents don’t eat two servings each week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“With this special report, we hope to raise awareness of our state’s seafood production and the fact that seafood is a healthy, delicious dining option,” said Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director and a professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS. “We’re very fortunate in Florida to have access to a wide range of local seafood items as well as products sourced elsewhere.”
Florida is the nation’s seventh-largest seafood producing state, offering about 80 wild-caught and farm-raised items, he said. Some of the state’s best-known seafood products include grouper, snapper, oysters, spiny lobster and stone crab. (more …)
Please see caption below
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While the crested floatingheart can help beautify an aquarium or a water garden, it clogs canals and slows drainage, particularly during heavy rains.
“It’s really attractive. It looks like a water lily,” said Lyn Gettys, an aquatic plant specialist at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. Crested floatingheart is also easy to grow and flourishes with little effort.
Instead of freezing unwanted crested floatinghearts and bringing them to a local landfill, many homeowners toss them into canals, said Gettys, an assistant professor of agronomy with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
For about a year, Gettys has been compiling data to quantify the seriousness that crested floatingheart poses for canals. Crested floatinghearts reproduce mostly by way of ramets, an asexual form of multiplying. Gettys is trying to find out how many “babies” a single plant can make. She’s particularly interested in the effects of soil type and fertilizer on the plant’s ability to reproduce.
Preliminary data show soil has no impact. But if plants are well-fertilized, one floatingheart can produce more than 100 ramets per month. If only half of the new ramets sprout and make as many of their own babies as the original plant, that’s potentially 114,000 plants in six months, Gettys said.
Please see caption below
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most recreational anglers who target deep-water reef fish in Florida recognize barotrauma symptoms, and University of Florida researchers think they can teach the other 30 percent to help save the fish.
By doing so, anglers would play a key role in sustaining the state’s valuable fisheries.
When anglers reel in their catch from deep waters, fish can suffer problems caused by gas pressure changes – or barotrauma. Often the gas-filled swim bladder of the fish has ruptured, releasing the gas into the fish’s body cavity. Symptoms of barotrauma include the stomach protruding from the fish’s mouth, bulging eyes, a bloated belly and distended intestines. Fish with these symptoms find it hard to swim back down to their natural habitat, and many die as a result.
Mitigating this condition may be a key to maintaining Florida’s fisheries, said Chuck Adams, a marine economist with Florida Sea Grant. The importance of reducing this source of mortality for fish is further underscored by a recent UF/IFAS report that showed fishing and seafood products have a $565 million-a-year impact on Florida’s economy. That report can be found here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe969.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A 20-year plan to dramatically reduce phosphorus levels of agricultural water entering the Florida Everglades is working, thanks to proper implementation of best management practices by growers, training by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and cooperation with state and federal agencies.
“It is a partnership that has worked,” said Samira Daroub, a professor of soil and water science at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade. “It is one of the success stories in the area and also in the country.” (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly half of Floridians eat more seafood than they did five to 10 years ago, but 40 percent still do not eat the federally recommended dietary intake of seafood, a new UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant-funded survey shows.
Floridians also know seafood is good for them, and they like their seafood caught or harvested in the Sunshine State. But many are not sure they’d know Florida seafood if they saw it, and they’re hesitant to pay the higher cost of local seafood.
“We know that eating Florida seafood is important to consumers,” said Florida Sea Grant Agent Bryan Fluech. Consumers want to support fishermen and the local economy, the survey says.
UF/IFAS experts say they can help educate consumers and the seafood industry to close these gaps.
“Specific educational programs could focus on developing a ‘train-the-trainer’ model for restaurant and retail staff,” said Fluech. That’s because most consumers purchase their seafood from restaurants and grocery stores, although they are not confident that they are getting accurate information from these sources. “Such a program would help these workers better address customer questions and needs, while promoting Florida seafood.”
See caption below
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the University of Florida prepares to embark on the 2015-16 academic year, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers several courses and majors that reflect how the institution adapts to industry and stakeholder needs.
The courses and majors aren’t brand new for this fall. They evolved during the past few years. But they reflect the growing menu of courses and majors offered to the more than 3,700 undergraduate students expected to enroll at UF CALS this fall.
Just to name a few of the relatively new majors and course offerings, UF CALS offers a major in marine sciences that leads to a bachelor’s degree, a new undergraduate certificate titled “Challenge 2050: Global Leadership and Change” from the Challenge 2050 Project and three new majors offered in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department that were previously specializations under one major – Food Science and Human Nutrition.
See caption below
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spiny lobsters practice “behavioral immunity” to create safe havens that prevent them from contracting a lethal disease in the wild, an important finding for the $50 million annual spiny lobster fishery in Florida, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Florida scientist.
UF/IFAS Associate Professor Don Behringer worked with Old Dominion University Professor Mark Butler on the study, published online June 10 in the journal PLOS ONE. In the study, scientists showed how the Caribbean spiny lobster uses a form of behavioral immunity to prevent the spread of the PaV1 virus, which takes a heavy toll on their populations.
“Increased infection risk has long been deemed a cost for the many benefits of being a social animal. However, we have shown that a social marine animal, the spiny lobster, has developed behaviors to reduce disease transmission by avoiding infected individuals,” said Behringer, a UF/IFAS scientist in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Science. “Further, this behavioral immunity keeps potential epidemics of PaV1 from occurring.”