University of Florida

UF research improves production of sea oats essential to dune restoration

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Conservation, Disaster Preparedness, New Technology, Weather


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It might be easy for the casual beachgoer to write off sea oats as mere weeds. However, the lanky grass holds the soil of beach dunes, making it a keystone of the natural barrier between land and water-and University of Florida researchers are using cutting-edge techniques to keep that barrier in place.”The 2004 hurricane season showed us exactly how important it is to have effective ways of rebuilding our coastal dunes,” said Mike Kane, a UF environmental horticulture professor. “Plants are an essential part of that rebuilding.”

The researchers from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are not only developing new ways to grow the plants under laboratory and greenhouse conditions, but are building a cryogenically stored library of genetically varied sea oats samples.

Four major hurricanes and a tropical storm damaged more than 800 miles of Florida shoreline in 2004, leaving 360 miles of beach critically eroded. Nearly $200 million in state and federal funding was allocated to rebuild.

Planting sea oats along reconstructed beaches isn’t easy or cheap. The 22,000 sea oats plants required to populate one mile of rebuilt beach cost more than $40,000.

One of the biggest hurdles is producing enough plants that will thrive in the area being rebuilt. Many of the natural sea oats populations that serve as seed sources were damaged or destroyed during the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons, leaving researchers looking for ways to produce sea oats other than by seed. (more …)

UF Expert: Tropical Storm Fay Leaves Mold Worries Behind

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Pollution, Weather
  • By:
    Stu Hutson – (352) 273-3569
  • Source:
    James Kimbrough – jamesk@ufl.edu, (352) 392-2158

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You can’t tell a storm’s spit by its punch, the old maxim goes. Florida is used to stronger weather systems than August’s tropical storm Fay, but its seven-day deluge made it the fourth wettest storm to ever hit the state.

One month later, most of the flooding has receded, but an expert from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences warns that new problems could be rising in the form of toxic molds and mildews. (more …)

UF Expert Says With Hurricane Season Approaching, Citizen Response Teams Need Volunteers

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Southern states most often wracked by hurricanes are ahead of the nation when it comes to preparing citizens to help in a disaster, but there are still plenty of volunteer gaps that need to be filled, a University of Florida researcher says.

And with hurricane season beginning Sunday, there’s no better time for residents to volunteer for disaster teams in their area, said Mark Brennan, a rural sociologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences who has written extensively on volunteerism. (more …)

UF Researchers on the Watch for Nice Weather – and the Diseases It Could Bring

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Families and Consumers, Pests, Weather
  • By:
    Stu Hutson – (352) 273-3569
  • Sources:
    Jonathan Day – jfda@ufl.edu, (561) 778-7200 x132
    Roxanne Rutledge Connelly – crr@ufl.edu, (772) 778-7200 x172

Asian tiger mosquito
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Calling it a silver lining may be a stretch, but the storm clouds wrought by the devastating 2004 hurricane season did bring the Sunshine State at least one ray of relief.

The year before, West Nile virus unexpectedly struck nearly 3,000 people in Colorado, killing more than 60. Similar outbreaks seemed virtually inevitable throughout the country for the next year – especially in Florida, where the mosquito and bird-borne disease seemed inevitable. (more …)

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