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University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientists warn of pharmaceutical peril for aquatic organisms in urban rivers

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pollution, RECs, Research, Safety


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — River beds in urban areas worldwide store pharmaceuticals, and University of Florida scientists warn they can pose a potential environmental danger to aquatic organisms.

UF/IFAS Post-Doctoral Researcher Yun-Ya Yang conducted a study along rural and urban areas of the Alafia River, which runs through parts of Hillsborough County and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. In her study, Yang collected sediment samples at several sites along the river and found 17 pharmaceuticals.

Yang found a lower amount of pharmaceuticals than in previous similar studies because river beds in Florida do not contain enough silt and clay, but they can still present an environmental concern.

These types of chemicals are not confined to the Alafia River or urban-area rivers in Florida, said Gurpal Toor, an associate professor in soil and water science, who supervised Yang’s study. The scientists say their findings are representative of urban rivers worldwide, partly because wastewater treatments plants, septic systems and industrial wastewater empty into water bodies. Landfill chemicals also leach into water bodies. All these sources contribute these contaminants in the environment.

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Five years after oil spill, survey shows Gulf Coast residents are still impacted

Topic(s): Aquaculture, CALS, Disaster Preparedness, Environment, Families and Consumers, Pollution
Families, fishermen and birds enjoying sunset at the beach in Naples, Florida.  Shore, coast, sundown, fishing, leisure and recreation.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Five years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 men and sent at least 210 million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, people along the coast are gathering for a three-city regional forum Thursday. Participants will discuss the spill’s effects on their communities, its lasting impacts and how to prepare for another major disaster.

The regional forum will include the release of results from a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey of Gulf Coast residents from Baldwin County, Ala., to Cedar Key, Fla. The survey looked at coastal residents’ opinions of the status of their recovery five years after the DWH disaster.

Findings indicated that respondents’ levels of satisfaction were lower five years after the spill than before it in several topic areas. This included levels of satisfaction with their community’s economy, community leadership and programs, local media, Gulf coast seafood industry, faith-based organizations and emergency response efforts. (more …)

UF study shows seafood samples had no elevated contaminant levels from oil spill

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Pollution, Research, Safety
Clam fishermen harvesting bags of mature clams off the coast of Cedar Key, Florida. Ocean, boat,gulf, fishing.   UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A sampling of more than 1,000 Gulf of Mexico fish, shrimp, oysters and blue crabs taken from Cedar Key, Fla., to Mobile Bay, Ala., between 2011 to 2013, shows no elevated contaminant levels, according to a seafood safety study conducted by Dr. Andrew Kane and colleagues at the University of Florida.  In fact, some 74 percent of the seafood tested showed no quantifiable levels of oil contaminants at all.

“Seafood appears as safe to eat now as it was before the spill,” said Kane, associate professor of environmental and global health and director of the Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher finds inexpensive, easy way to filter arsenic from water

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Environment, IFAS, Pollution, Research
UF/IFAS Researcher Bin Gao has developed an inexpensive and easy way to filter arsenic from water.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida professor has developed a quick, cheap and easy way to filter from water one of the world’s most common pollutants: arsenic.

Bin Gao’s team used iron-enhanced carbon cooked from hickory chips, called biochar, to remove the toxin. He is an associate professor with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ in agricultural and biological engineering. (more …)

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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UF/IFAS research findings shed light on seagrass needs

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

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Cutline: Tom Frazer, professor of aquatic ecology and director of the UF School of Natural Resources and Environment at UF/IFAS, collects seagrass off Florida’s Gulf Coast in this UF/IFAS file photo. Frazer helped supervise a UF/IFAS graduate student’s thesis that examined how much sunlight is needed to keep seagrass healthy off the coast of Florida’s Big Bend.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Seagrass beds represent critical and threatened coastal habitats around the world, and a new University of Florida study shows how much sunlight seagrass needs to stay healthy.

Loss of seagrass means fish, crabs and other animals lose their homes and manatees and sea turtles lose a source of food. Nutrients, such as phosphorous, may prevent seagrass from getting the sunlight it needs to thrive. Nutrients may come from many sources, among them fertilizers used in agriculture, golf courses and suburban lawns, pet waste and septic tank waste.

Scientists often use seagrass to judge coastal ecosystems’ vitality, said Chuck Jacoby, a courtesy associate professor in the Department of Soil and Water Science and co-author of a new UF study that examines light and seagrass health.

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Water management district, UF/IFAS and UF Water Institute team up to examine springs

Topic(s): Announcements, Aquaculture, Environment, IFAS, Pollution
The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the St. Johns River Water Management District, along with UF's Water Institute, are teaming up under a $3 million grant from the state to examine the deteriorating health of Florida's springs.

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March 18, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is joining forces with two entities as part of a $3 million, three-year contract to provide scientific data to help protect and restore the state’s springs system. UF/IFAS’ partners in the effort are the St. Johns River Water Management District, which is funding the project, and UF’s Water Institute. (more …)

To the root of the matter – keeping nitrogen out of small streams

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Conservation, IFAS, Pollution, Research


Feb. 25, 2014

GAINESVLLE, Fla. – For years, scientists tried to find out why some small streams carry only minute concentrations of nitrogen.

Now Stefan Gerber, a University of Florida researcher with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Jack Brookshire, an assistant professor of biogeochemistry from Montana State University, believe they have solved the mystery. (more …)

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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