IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS study: Wood toxin could harm zoo animals

Topic(s): Environment, IFAS, Research, Soil and Water Science

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When those cute animals gnaw on wood enclosures at a zoo, they may be risking their health by ingesting toxic levels of arsenic, so zoo managers need to pay attention to the potential risk of the wood on zoo animals, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

The wood in question is treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which can be toxic.

After visiting a zoo with her family, Julia Gress, a former post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS soil and water sciences department, recognized that animals living in enclosures made from CCA-treated wood might face health risks.

Gress wanted to assess the impact of CCA-treated wood on arsenic exposures in zoo animals. She measured arsenic concentrations in soil from inside enclosures and on wipe samples of CCA-treated wood. Samples were taken from inside 17 wood enclosures, and also included crocodilian eggs, bird feathers, marmoset hair and porcupine quills.

Researchers found arsenic levels in soil that were higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s risk-based level for birds and mammals. As well, arsenic levels in some animal tissues were also higher than those in other studies.  Those findings should encourage zoo managers to limit animal exposure to arsenic found on the wood surface and in nearby soil, Gress said.

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UF/IFAS soil and water sciences chair earns National Wetlands Award

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Soil and Water Science

Konda R. Reddy (Ramesh), Graduate Research Prof & Chair, Ph.D., Soil and Water Science, Gamma Sigma Delta awards ceremony 2007. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.

Ramesh Reddy

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For his 40 years of groundbreaking work on nutrient cycling in wetlands aquatic systems, the chairman of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences soil and water sciences department has been named a winner of the National Wetlands Award.

Professor K. Ramesh Reddy is among five recipients of this year’s National Wetlands Awards, given by the Environmental Law Institute. Now in its 27th year, the program has recognized nearly 200 people from across the country for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation. The award recipients will be honored in Washington, D.C., during American Wetlands Month. The award ceremony is on May 11.

“As we walk through a wetland, we all admire beautiful plants, flowers, birds and other wildlife, and flowing water, but we rarely think about the ‘living soil’ under our feet,” Reddy said. “The chemical and biological processes in the soil essentially control the majority of functions and ecosystem services that provide wetlands. This is similar to the ‘brain’ orchestrating the many functions of human body.

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UF/IFAS scientists honored as UF Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues as wide-ranging as better alternative fuels and nutrient absorption, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2016-19.

The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.

“UF/IFAS faculty research continuously shows its value in practical ways, but these faculty members stand out because the University of Florida is recognizing their outstanding work,” said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns. “Their scientific research helps solve global issues ranging from potential solutions to citrus greening to growing crops in a changing climate to finding new sources of alternative energy.”

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UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Summit set for March 23

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

WHO: The University of Florida IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology will host the first Urban Landscape Summit on March 23.

WHAT: All are invited to hear summit speakers discuss water, landscape management, urban pest issues, social issues, economics and more. Presentations will include “Why do we adopt environmentally friendly lawn care?”; “Managing pests in lawn care: Is it necessary?”; and “Smart water application technologies.”

WHERE: The event will be held at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.

WHEN: The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 23. For more information, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/clce/events/urban-landscape-summit.html

To register, log onto   http://2016urbanlandscapesummit.eventbrite.com

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Michael Dukes, 352-392-1864, ext. 205, mddukes@ufl.edu

Renowned scientists join the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research, Soil and Water Science

Cheryl_Palmpedrosanchez

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two acclaimed faculty, internationally recognized for their work in tropical agriculture, have joined the faculty at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Pedro Sanchez has been named a professor in the department of soil and water sciences, while Cheryl Palm will be a professor in the department of agricultural and biological engineering. Both will work with the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Palm to UF/IFAS because of the great work we are already doing in tropical agriculture, and Drs. Sanchez and Palm will help grow our programs,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources at UF. “Both scientists bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for agriculture and its impact on the world. They will complement the work we do at UF/IFAS to improve our local and global communities, and will help position UF as a global leader in tropical agriculture.”

Sanchez and Palm both work at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which brings together the people and tools needed to address some of the world’s most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.

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Two key factors control phosphorus movement from soil to groundwater

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pollution, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

 

Gurpal Toor working in his lab at the Gulf Coast REC in Balm Florida. UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New insights into how phosphorus leaches into groundwater could help reduce its potential impact on water and the environment, a UF/IFAS scientist says.

Phosphorus poses an environmental threat when it travels from soils to open water bodies, including lakes, streams and rivers. When too much phosphorus is applied to soils, the ground cannot hold all of the chemical, said Gurpal Toor, an associate professor of soil and water science at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida. As a result, phosphorus leaches out and migrates to water bodies, lowering water quality and leading to algal blooms. Such blooms can choke off oxygen to fish and underwater plants.

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UF researcher wins national L’Oreal Fellowship

Topic(s): IFAS, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researcher Julie Meyer is definitely worth it, especially to L’Oreal USA. Meyer is one of five recipients of the L’Oréal USA 2015 For Women in Science Fellowship, which honors female scientists at critical stages of their career with $60,000 fellowships to advance their postdoctoral research.

Meyer is a postdoctoral scientist in marine microbiology in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Her research focuses on the role of microbial interactions in the health and stability of coral reefs, and is performed in collaboration with the Smithsonian Marine Station.

Meyer is researching how shifts in coral microbiota are associated with Black Band Disease, a disease that kills healthy tissue in many different species of reef-building corals. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship will support the further development of Meyer’s research, including the sequencing of whole genomes.

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UF/IFAS program highly successful in keeping phosphorus out of the Everglades

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Conservation, Crops, Environment, IFAS, Livestock, RECs, Soil and Water Science

Wide angle scenic of Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida.  Parks and recreation, Florida, river of grass.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A 20-year plan to dramatically reduce phosphorus levels of agricultural water entering the Florida Everglades is working, thanks to proper implementation of best management practices by growers, training by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and cooperation with state and federal agencies.

“It is a partnership that has worked,” said Samira Daroub, a professor of soil and water science at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade. “It is one of the success stories in the area and also in the country.” (more …)

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, Soil and Water Science

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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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