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UF/IFAS study: Florida’s climate boosts soil-carbon storage, cuts greenhouse emissions

Topic(s): Biocontrols, Conservation, Environment, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS, Pollution

Sabine Grunwald. Associate Professor, Ph.D.  Soil and Water Science.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Warm temperatures and a wet landscape increase soil’s ability to store carbon, which in turn helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new University of Florida study covering 45 years of data.

Soil-stored carbon can slow the build-up of carbon-based gases in the atmosphere, a phenomenon believed to be a cause of global climate change. So it’s vital to preserve soil carbon, said Sabine Grunwald, a UF soil and water science professor who led the research.

“The conservation of the ‘black gold’ below our feet, which is not only a natural part of Florida’s soils but also helps to improve our climate and agricultural production, is a hidden treasure,” said Grunwald, a member of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty. “Soils serve as a natural container to hold carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases that accelerate global climate change.”

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Good results from Florida’s urban tree-planting program, UF/IFAS study shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS

URBAN TREE planting

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s urban tree-planting program works well: 93 percent of the trees planted were still alive up to five years after they were planted, a new University of Florida study shows.

UF researchers attribute the high survival rate to the state’s rules for projects funded as part of its Urban and Community Forestry Grants program.

Run by the Florida Forest Service, the program began in 1990 to encourage cities to plant more trees for such benefits as energy savings, air and water quality and higher property values. For the current fiscal year, program officials approved $307,000 in federal money for 20 Florida cities, counties and nonprofits to help support trees.

Under the program, local entities must match the federal grants. And one year after trees are planted, the Florida Forest Service conducts on-site inspections to be sure trees, which are planted on public properties or rights of way, are alive and healthy.

For the study, scientists with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2010 surveyed 2,354 trees planted at 26 sites, including Orlando, Tampa, Ocala, Lakeland and Vero Beach.

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UF/IFAS strategies give forest owners, managers disaster-coping methods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, Pests, Weather

Forest strategies

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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.

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UF/IFAS scientist helps write national ‘roadmap’ for natural resources

Topic(s): Forestry, Honors and Appointments

 

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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.

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The new Austin Cary Learning Center to be dedicated Saturday

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Forestry, IFAS
Artist's Concept of the new Austin Cary Research Center at Austin Cary Forest

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 …)

UF/IFAS researchers on team that sequenced, assembled, and annotated loblolly pine genome

Topic(s): Agriculture, Forestry, IFAS, Research

John M. Davis, professor and associate director of the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and Katherine Smith, a biological science technician with the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Institute of Forest Genetics, took the lead in annotating the genes in a portion of the loblolly pine genome.

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 …)

UF/IFAS study shows captive breeding no help to endangered woodrat

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Forestry

key largo woodrat

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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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UF/IFAS researcher co-authors beetle book

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Forestry, Pests

Xyleborini New Guinea

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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.”

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Grants to help UF researchers grow pine trees faster, produce more energy

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Forestry

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.

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