IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS hosting free annual PLANT CAMP for science and environmental primary school teachers

Topic(s): Departments, Environment, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

The UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants is looking for 24 science and environmental educators from elementary, middle or high schools interested in attending PLANT CAMP, June 20-24, 2016 at UF.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting its annual, free, week-long PLANT CAMP for science and environmental primary school teachers this summer, with lodging and meal costs covered by the program’s sponsors.

The UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants is looking for 24 science and environmental educators from elementary, middle or high schools interested in attending June 20-24, 2016, at UF. Applications are due February 21st. (more …)

UF/IFAS explores bringing popular South American food fish to Florida

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research, Weather

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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.

(more …)

New UF/IFAS Extension publication can help owners protect horses from creeping indigo

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock, Safety

Horse in pasture -- small

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Recent news accounts of horses falling ill or dying after consuming the weed creeping indigo have raised concerns among horse owners. So, University of Florida experts have released a new publication to educate the public and help prevent future incidents.

It’s the latest in a series of educational efforts on creeping indigo led by faculty members with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said weed scientist Jason Ferrell, a UF/IFAS agronomy professor. For the past year, Ferrell and colleagues have been giving live presentations to horse owners and reaching out to veterinarians, Extension agents and fellow scientists with information.

“We want to heighten people’s sense of awareness, heighten their vigilance, teach them about good pasture management practices and improve their horses’ health,” Ferrell said.

The publication is available free at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag399. It provides color photos of creeping indigo, along with information on its toxic effects, preventive steps to discourage establishment of the plant, and herbicide recommendations for treating infested pastures. The publication is part of the UF/IFAS online Extension library known as the Electronic Data Information Source, or EDIS. (more …)

UF/IFAS helping homeowners across Florida deal with coyotes

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock

Coyotes are becoming a nuisance in some parts of Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Coyotes were introduced in Florida in the 1920s for hunting and, today, they live in every county in the state and are becoming a nuisance in some areas.

Lisa Hickey, an Extension agent for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is hosting a workshop from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, at the Anna Maria Public Library to help residents understand the precautions they can take to reduce coyote encounters. The library is located at 5701 Marina Drive on Holmes Beach (Manatee County). (more …)

UF/IFAS helping teachers with creative biology lessons

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Need a creative way to teach students about Florida’s ecosystems?  How about tracking the journey of an invasive plant or putting together a puzzle of freshwater plants?  The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has you covered.

Fun lessons are available through The Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative, a partnership between the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (more …)

Wilson named chair of UF/IFAS Department of Environmental Horticulture

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Crops, Environment, Green Living, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Invasive Species

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You can take the “interim” off of Sandra Wilson’s title. She’s now chair of the UF/IFAS Department of Environmental Horticulture.

Named interim chair in November 2014, Wilson was named to the permanent position in September by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“Dr. Wilson was a natural choice to lead our Environmental Horticulture Department,” Payne said. “Combine her outstanding teaching and research record, the leadership she has shown and the fact that the faculty support her, and we knew right away Dr. Wilson would lead the department to unparalleled heights.”

Wilson came to Gainesville after 15 years as an environmental horticulture faculty member at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center.

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Crested floatingheart: The lovely looking lily-like plant that clogs canals

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Invasive Species, RECs, Research

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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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South Florida an attractive home for invading reptiles

Topic(s): Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, RECs, Research

An alligator at Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida.  Parks and recreation, gators, wildlife.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — South Florida is on the front lines in the war against invasive reptiles and amphibians because its warm climate makes it a place where they like to live, a new University of Florida study shows.

Using computer models and data showing where reptiles live in Florida, UF/IFAS scientists predicted where they could find non-native species in the future. They found that as temperatures climb, areas grow more vulnerable to invasions by exotic reptiles. Conversely, they found that extreme cold temperatures protect against invasion.

“Early detection and rapid response efforts are essential to prevent more of the 140 introduced species from establishing breeding populations, and this study helps us choose where to look first,” said Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center.

The new study is published online in the journal Herpetological Conservation Biology.

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Public workshop at UF/IFAS facility to discuss invasive species

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, RECs

An alligator at Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida. Parks and recreation, gators, wildlife. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With Florida facing an increasing invasion of exotic wildlife, UF/IFAS scientists and other specialists will hold a public workshop Sept. 16 at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

The workshop, a joint venture of UF/IFAS and the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (SWFL CISMA), will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the facility, 2685 State Road 29 North, in Immokalee.

More than 140 species of reptiles and amphibians have been introduced in Florida, with more than 50 breeding here, said Frank Mazzotti, a UF/IFAS professor of wildlife ecology and conservation.

“South Florida is particularly susceptible to non-native invasions as a result of its subtropical climate, island-like geography, major ports of entry for plants and animals, thriving trade in exotic pets and occasional hurricanes, which increase the risk of escapes,” Mazzotti said.

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Book examines the use of predatory mites for biological control

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

Biological Control Book editors 081315Biological Control Book 081315

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Biological control of pests, weeds, plants and animals gives “the best hope to providing lasting, environmentally sound and socially acceptable pest management,” according to a new book edited by two UF/IFAS scientists.

The book, “Prospects for Biological Control of Plant Feeding Mites and Other Harmful Organisms,” was recently published by Springer Science. It includes chapters by scientists in California, Kenya, Benin, Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Spain and New Zealand.

Research compiled in the book examines how predatory mites can be used to control other plant-eating mites and other harmful organisms such as stable flies, mushrooms flies and some soil pests, said Daniel Carrillo, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in entomology. The book serves as an important resource for anyone searching for efficient and sustainable biological methods of pest control. Biological control is vital because pests become more difficult to control as they build resistance to pesticides.

“So, biological control is a sound alternative,” Carrillo said. “You can release predatory mites to control spider mites, whiteflies and thrips, among other pests. People use them in greenhouses mostly.”

(more …)

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