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UF/IFAS irrigation apps for urban turfgrass, strawberry and citrus now available

Topic(s): Conservation, New Technology, RECs, Uncategorized

turf

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida has released three smart device apps of interest to those in the irrigation business, and for the time being, users can download them for free.

The first three apps to be released were designed for citrus, strawberry and urban turfgrass irrigators, said Kati Migliaccio, an associate professor in agricultural and biological engineering, based at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Fla.

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UF study: Boomboxes amplify predatory bird sounds and are used as cues

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry

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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UF study helps quantify biodiversity decrease around farmland

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Animal biodiversity suffers near conservation areas that border big farms, and the effects can spread for miles, according to a new study by University of Florida researchers and their colleagues.

Maintaining animal biodiversity is important as it can lead to greater control of agricultural pests and increased pollination around farmland as well as help maintain the health of an area’s ecosystem, said Robert McCleery, a study co-author.

The researchers studied small mammal populations across large-scale sugarcane production areas and adjacent to isolated pockets of conservation land in Swaziland, Africa. The study was published Monday in the online journal PLOS ONE and can be viewed here: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074520.

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Pastured ‘wild’ horses to cost U.S. $1 billion by 2030, researchers warn in report

Topic(s): Conservation, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Livestock, Research

wild horses

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Captive “wild” horses will cost U.S. taxpayers $1 billion by 2030 if federal management approaches don’t change, according to a new report by a pair of researchers who were part of a national committee that studied the issue.

A possible solution, they say: contraceptive vaccines.

The report by researchers Madan Oli of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Robert Garrott of Montana State University, was published late last week in the journal Science. Oli is a professor in the wildlife ecology and conservation department, and Garrott is a professor in the MSU ecology department.

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UF researchers find changes in forest management could produce large water yields

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Research

Kaplan and McLaughlin

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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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UF/IFAS study finds feelings run deep in goliath grouper debate

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Depending on one’s perspective, goliath grouper are either a conservation success story or a protected species that no longer needs help, according to a new survey from the University of Florida.

Atlantic goliath grouper, part of the sea bass family, were overfished from the 1960s through the 1980s and their numbers thinned until 1990, when a harvest moratorium was put into place in U.S. waters. As the name suggests, the slow-moving fish can reach 800 pounds and more than 8 feet in length. They’re found off Florida’s coasts, throughout the Caribbean and off West Africa.

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UF/IFAS associate dean awarded for educational program

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Marty Main

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Marty Main, associate dean for University of Florida Extension and associate director of Florida Sea Grant, is being recognized for his educational outreach by the Ecological Society of America.

He has been awarded the Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education for the success of the Florida Master Naturalist Program.

The award will be presented in August at the 2013 Ecological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis. It recognizes ecologists for outstanding work in ecology education and their program’s ability to connect basic ecological principles to human affairs.

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UF researchers find wheat production models disagree under climate change scenarios

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Weather

Senthold Asseng

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found, for the first time, that crop models predicting yields for one of the world’s most important crops begin to disagree under climate change scenarios.

By knowing where those models break down, researchers will be better able to improve them. The computerized models predict crop yields for wheat, one of the world’s most-consumed foods.

Scientists use crop models to foresee which parts of the world may face the greatest food shortages, so that efforts to improve food production can be directed to those places.

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UF Oyster Recovery Team issues findings: Drought and salinity major issues, not oil

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Conservation, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, Pollution, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There is no evidence that pollutants from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill contributed to the “unprecedented” decline in recent Apalachicola Bay oyster populations, according to a report this week by the University of Florida.

Instead, the report by UF’s Oyster Recovery Team cites drought, insufficient rainfall and increased salinity in the bay as factors contributing to the dramatic drop-off in oyster landings beginning in September 2012 and continuing through the year, said Karl Havens, task force leader and director of Florida Sea Grant.

“There was a whole chain of circumstances that led to this situation, some of which are beyond human control,” Havens said. “Our report makes recommendations for many things that can be done to help the oyster population through management and restoration.”

Havens and other recovery team members discussed the report and findings with a crowd of about 60 residents and seafood workers Wednesday at the Apalachicola Community Center.

The full report and a summary are available at the UF/IFAS Franklin County Extension office or its website, http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu.

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Local residents can give up exotic animals at UF pet amnesty event April 16

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species

Tree frog

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Exotic pets can be fun, but if animals become too big, too costly or too difficult to manage, the enjoyment may disappear and owners may start looking for ways to make the animals do the same.

Unfortunately, some of these pet owners turn their critters loose in the wild – that’s one reason Florida has more invasive reptile and amphibian species than any other place on Earth. In fact, the Sunshine State is now home to so many Burmese pythons that earlier this year officials held a competition to capture and remove the huge constrictors, which are blamed for decimating native wildlife.

To discourage future releases of unwanted pets, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has partnered with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to present the area’s first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16.

The event is free and open to the public. Animals will be accepted with no questions asked at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, just off S.W. 16th Ave. near the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.

Simultaneously, there will be an educational display on the J. Wayne Reitz Student Union colonnade.

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