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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Scientists believe climate change means more erratic weather patterns for the future, and that doesn’t bode well for forests in the Southeastern U.S.
Two things trees don’t need are damaging hurricane-force winds and wildfires, and they believe those climate change-related weather patterns portend more of both.
University of Florida researchers, including postdoctoral research associate Andres Susaeta, built a computer model that simulates various climate scenarios in hopes of minimizing the potentially cataclysmic damage to forests on privately owned forest land.
“Climate change is likely to affect forest productivity and exacerbate the impacts of big disasters on forest ecosystems in the South,” Susaeta said.
A UF/IFAS forest biologist is among the authors of a new Association of Public and Land-grant Universities report that outlines six “grand challenges” facing the U.S. in the areas of sustainability, water, climate change, agriculture, energy and education.
The report, called “Science, Education and Outreach Roadmap for Natural Resources,” recommends a series of research, education and outreach activities to meet the challenges over the next decade.
Artist’s Concept of the new Austin Cary Research Center at Austin Cary Forest
GAINESVILLE – Three years ago, a fire destroyed the Austin Cary Learning Center, a university and community resource used by students, alumni, professionals and the community. On Saturday, its newly built replacement will be dedicated by the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To look at the humble loblolly pine – grown in neat rows on large farms throughout the southeastern U.S. and milled for things like building lumber and paper – you would never think that its genetic code is seven times larger than a human’s.
That is just one of the things researchers, including two from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the UF Genetics Institute, learned as they sequenced the loblolly pine genome for the first time. They also discovered genes resistant to a devastating pine forest disease. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Captive breeding of the endangered Key Largo woodrat may not be the best solution to preserve the ecologically important rodent, an animal driven to near extinction by development, a new University of Florida study shows.
Using a computer model, scientists developed a captive breeding-and-release program to see if adding captive-reared animals outweighed the loss of rats from the wild. But it did not, the study said.
Robert McCleery, UF assistant professor in wildlife ecology and conservation and co-author of the study, estimated that fewer than 500 of the woodrats remain. That’s down from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates of about 6,000 in 1984.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Pesky beetles sit, ready to pounce on their unwitting prey: trees around the world, which sustain billions of dollars in damage because of the armored insects, says a University of Florida scientist, who has co-written a book about beetles native to Papua New Guinea.
Thousands of beetle species make their home in Papua New Guinea, a small island off the northern coast of Australia, but only two or three travel to other parts of the globe, said Jiri Hulcr, a UF assistant professor of forest entomology. First, they have to be exported, something humans do by accident, said Hulcr, a member of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ faculty.
“We put them in habitats where they shouldn’t be,” he said, by exporting wood or using it to send ship cargo. “It’s not as though these beetles have evolved as killing species. They have evolved in their native habitat.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida researchers will use $1.45 million in federal grants to develop trait-prediction models and accelerate the growth of loblolly pine trees to produce more bioenergy.
In his grant application, UF associate professor Matias Kirst, the principal investigator for the study, said Southern pines can be used as renewable biomass for bioenergy and renewable chemicals. However, for pines to meet their potential as a bioenergy crop, researchers must develop more productive cultivars that can be efficiently converted into liquid fuels, said Kirst, who teaches in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
GAINESVILLE — Using boomboxes to amplify predator bird sounds in the wild, University of Florida researchers have found that smaller birds listen to vocal cues to avoid areas populated by predators.
In her study, doctoral student Fangyuan Hua set up above-ground boomboxes mounted in camouflaged boxes on half-acre plots at the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station near Melrose.
Powered by car batteries, these boomboxes were programmed for four months to broadcast predator sounds according to a schedule that simulated when and how predators would normally call.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Despite a soggy summer, water supply remains a critical issue in the Sunshine State. University of Florida researchers now say that reducing plant material, or biomass, in forests could significantly increase water supplied to streams, lakes and aquifers.
Researchers with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences made the finding by creating computer models that analyzed the effects of reduced forest biomass on regional hydrological supplies. Their results will be published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.
In one 4,000-acre tract in Central Florida, the model predicted that converting a densely planted pine forest to one managed with slightly fewer trees per acre could supply an additional 400,000 to 1.6 million gallons of water per day to the regional water supply.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and related food industries provided a $104 billion impact on the state in 2011 and have continued to improve since the 2008 recession, according to a new University of Florida study.
The study is the latest report from researchers in UF’s food and resource economics department — part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences — on the industries’ economic contributions. It can be viewed here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FE/FE93500.pdf.
The industries include crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries production; agricultural product and service providers; food product manufacturing; forest product manufacturing; food distribution; mining and nature-based recreation.