BELLE GLADE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists at the Everglades Research and Education Center have found an important way to control the destructive rice water weevil, one of the major pests in rice production.
UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Ron Cherry and his team discovered that shallow flooding of rice fields can help reduce rice water weevil populations during Florida’s growing season, between April and September. Previous studies of the effect of flood depth on the pest have been inconsistent. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Davis, professor and associate director of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has been named associate dean for UF/IFAS research.
“Dr. Davis is an excellent researcher and teacher, and knows UF/IFAS very well. He has assisted this office for many years in a variety of roles, and understands how to support faculty in this important position,” said Jackie Burns, dean for UF/IFAS research. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Davis join our team.”
Davis earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics / Forestry from Michigan State University in 1989, and joined UF/IFAS after a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. He now specializes in genomics of ecologically important species and their interactions, with a majority research appointment in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation in UF/IFAS.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you dined on Arapaima? South Americans eat the fish regularly, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying whether it could be a viable food fish in the United States.
“It has lots of high-quality meat,” said Jeffrey Hill, a UF/IFAS associate professor of fisheries and aquatic sciences. “It’s an easy fish to sell. It’s a really good food fish. It’s one of my favorites. It’s has a good taste. It’s easy to cook.”
Hill, doctoral student Katelyn Lawson and other researchers at the UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, Florida, recently published two studies concerning Arapaima. One found the fish can only survive in waters that are at least 16 degrees Celsius, or about 61 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it would only survive in South Florida waters, Hill said. The other study found a low risk of Arapaima getting out of fish farms and into canals. If Arapaima wound up in canals, they would prey on other fish.
The risk analysis was published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, while the lethal temperature study was published in the North American Journal of Aquaculture.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Global shrimp production is recovering from a challenging disease, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor says.
Based on an annual survey of shrimp industry leaders, global farmed shrimp production fell 14 percent from 2011 to 2013, caused mainly by the devastating disease known as early mortality syndrome, said James Anderson, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and director of the UF Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. The disease caused by bacteria, was first reported in Asia in 2009, and has resulted in high mortalities in the shrimp-farming industry, especially in Thailand, China, Malaysia and Vietnam.
But shrimp is bouncing back, with production expected to return to 2011 levels this year, Anderson said. He projected an average annual growth rate of over 7 percent from 2013 through 2017. From 2006 to 2011, the annual growth rate for shrimp was approximately 6 percent, according to Anderson’s numbers.
“It is notoriously difficult to get timely and accurate numbers on global shrimp production, since the industry is mostly located in the developing countries, many of which do not have resources to collect the data in detail,” Anderson said.
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 …)
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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.
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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.