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IFAS News

University of Florida

Two most destructive termite species forming superswarms in South Florida, UF/IFAS study finds

Topic(s): IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

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UF/IFAS entomology Professor Nan-Yao Su

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two of the most destructive termite species in the world — responsible for much of the $40 billion in economic loss caused by termites annually — are now swarming simultaneously in South Florida, creating hybrid colonies that grow quickly and have the potential to migrate to other states.

In an article published today in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of University of Florida entomologists has documented that the Asian and Formosan subterranean termite simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of alates, or winged males and females. Both species have evolved separately for thousands of years, but in South Florida, they now have the opportunity to meet, mate and start new hybrid colonies.

While researchers have yet to determine if the hybrid termite is fertile or sterile, it likely poses a danger, said Nan-Yao Su, an entomology professor at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Because a termite colony can live up to 20 years with millions of individuals, the damaging potential of a hybrid colony remains a serious threat to homeowners even if the hybrid colony does not produce fertile winged termites,” Su said. “This is especially true when the colony exhibits hybrid vigor as we witnessed in the laboratory.”

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UF/IFAS grad student wins prize for mosquito trap research

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Pests, Research

Casey Parker Environmental Portrait Mosquito Housing

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Casey Parker came to the University of Florida aspiring to be a pharmacist. But chemistry wasn’t for her. So, she took a class called “Bugs and People,” and the professor at the time, Carl Barfield, convinced her to study entomology.

“I loved everything about it,” Parker said of studying insects. “It’s something people don’t think about very much. They’re around, but we don’t think, ‘they do so many crazy things in our world.’ They transmit tons of diseases that affect humans and animals.”

Parker did so well academically that she graduated last year and continued her master’s studies at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Department of Entomology and Nematology. The graduate entomology student recently won the ONE WORLD competition, organized by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Challenge 2050 Project in conjunction with the Syngenta Good Growth Plan. She was awarded $2,000 for her work.

“I was really honored,” Parker said, adding that she felt humbled to be among the other five student finalists – dubbed “The Solution 6” — all of whom created outstanding innovations.

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UF/IFAS research, breeding showcased at Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

UF/IFAS Flavors of Florida 2015

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences produce some of the nation’s tastiest fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at UF’s Plant Innovation Center breed new cultivars and conduct research to boost the taste, smell and appearance of Florida fruits, vegetables and foliage. But the PIC does much more, said UF environmental horticulture Professor David Clark.

“The big thing is this: No other university in the country can pull off what we’ve put together here, so we are novel,” Clark said. “We cover the whole supply chain, from the conception of an idea to the realization of a product.”

UF faculty, administrators and friends gathered Monday at the UF president’s house in Gainesville for Flavors of Florida 2015, a premier event showcasing the edible research products of the UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center. Industry leaders, donors and guests savored the sensations of tasty tomatoes, flavor-filled fruits and other Sunshine State food and drinks while learning more about the impact that UF/IFAS makes for the agriculture industry. This is the second year the event has been held.

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UF/IFAS Extension agents and master gardeners to participate in Florida Agriculture Literacy Day

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, Livestock

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS Extension agents and master gardeners will participate in the 12th annual Florida Agriculture Literacy Day on April 21, when they will read a non-fiction book about Florida’s livestock and poultry industry to elementary school students all over the state.

Florida Agriculture Literacy Day features farmers, ranchers, UF/IFAS Extension agents, master gardeners, teachers and students in Future Farmers of America and agriculture industry representatives reading to students about the importance of agriculture.

“IFAS has been very involved in the Ag Literacy Day, and a good reason for that is a lot of these county offices require them to go into classrooms,” said Lisa Gaskalla, executive director of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Inc. “It’s an easy, free way for them to get into elementary classrooms in their county and establish relationships with those teachers and students and let them know what Extension is and how it can help them.”

This year’s book, “Drive Through Florida: Livestock and Poultry,” is about an animated truck that takes students on a tour of Florida’s beef, dairy, poultry, swine, equine, sheep and goat industries. The book gives students a better understanding of the breadth of resources available in this state.

UF/IFAS has participated in Florida Agriculture Literacy day every year since it began in 2004 and about one-fourth of all of the readers are UF/IFAS Extension staff or master gardeners, Gaskalla said.

Florida Agriculture Literacy Day is organized by Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Inc., a nonprofit organization that educates Florida teachers and students about the source of food, fiber and fuel by using lessons, materials, grant programs and other projects.

For more information please visit: http://faitc.org/aglitday/.

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By Rachel LaVigna, 352-294-3302, rlavigna@ifas.ufl.edu

Source: Lisa Gaskalla, 352-846-1391, gaskalla@ufl.edu

 

Alachua County Extension agent named Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, Florida Friendly, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Lawn & Garden

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Wendy Wilber

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Wendy Wilber believes Florida’s immensely popular Florida Master Gardener Program can be the best in the country.

The veteran UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County environmental horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator has been named as the statewide master gardener coordinator for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Wilber, who has worked as a county master gardener coordinator for 15 years, said in her cover letter for the position that her experience working with volunteers made her an ideal candidate. She coordinates about 140 volunteers.

Michael Dukes, a professor in the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and director of the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, announced Wilber’s appointment. The center promotes the protection and preservation of Florida’s natural resources and quality of life through responsible landscape management.

Wilber starts her new position April 10.

“This position is important to the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology as well as to IFAS,” Dukes said. “With 4,000 volunteers, it’s a great way to disseminate scientific-based information. We are excited about bringing Wendy on board to lead this program.”

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UF/IFAS CALS undergraduate to present autoimmune research in D.C.

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS

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Brandon Lam

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Brandon Lam studies protein and pathogens to hopefully find a solution to autoimmune diseases like lupus. His research is so good he has been chosen to present his work at an academic symposium in Washington, D.C., in April.

Lam, a UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences undergraduate student, has been selected to represent UF at the 19th Annual Posters on the Hill event, sponsored by the National Council on Undergraduate Research, April 22-23. His poster will be one of 60 that were selected from close to 500 applications, said Elaine Turner, dean of the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“I am thrilled that I have been chosen to represent the sciences, and specifically, immunology,” said Lam, a first-generation American who attended high school in Miami. His family comes from Guyana.

Lam, 21, a senior who will graduate in May, knew he wanted to pursue a science career after he researched microbiology in high school as a student ambassador with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also participated in research at Florida International University during high school.

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UF/IFAS has new book to help identify North and Central Florida trees

Topic(s): Announcements, Forestry, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Want to know what that weird palm is growing in your backyard? How about that scraggy tree? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a new book coming out that will help: “Trees: North and Central Florida,” a photographic field guide of 140 native, introduced and invasive trees and palms in North and Central Florida.

Andrew Koeser , a co-author and assistant professor of urban tree and landscape management at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, said he wrote the book as an ID guide for people to be able to take with them into the field.

“I want this to be a book where people can just take it out with them. Any tree they see in North and Central Florida, there’s a high probability that it will be in that book,” Koeser said. “We tried to get the most common trees in North and Central Florida.”

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UF/IFAS study: Forest managers hindered in efforts to use prescribed burns to control costly wildfires

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS

BURNS2 03XX15 (file photo)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Forest managers would prefer to use prescribed burns every few years to help prevent costly wildfires and rebuild unhealthy ecosystems, but hurdles like staffing, budget, liability and new development hinder them, a new University of Florida study shows.

Fighting wildfires is costly. The U.S. government now spends about $2 billion a year just to stop them, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. That’s up from $239 million in 1985.

Leda Kobziar, an associate professor of fire science and forest conservation in UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, led a web-based survey of 523 public and private land managers across Region 8 of the U.S. Forest Service, which consists of 13 Southern states, including Florida. She and her colleagues wanted to see whether front-line experts think prescribed burns prevent wildfires and maintain vegetation and healthy ecosystems. And if they do, what are the circumstances under which such burns work best.

As it turns out, prescribed burns should be done every few years to prevent wildfires or reduce their severity, depending on weather and the type of ecosystem land managers are trying to protect, according to the survey.

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UF/IFAS experts to share research at global symposium on urban tree economics

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Economics, Environment, Forestry, IFAS

 

ED GILMAN

UF/IFAS Professor Ed Gilman

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Global experts, including three from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will share knowledge at an international symposium focused on the economics of urban tree management, March 18-19, in Tampa, Florida.

The meeting brings together experts from around the world and innovative professionals working with some of America’s largest and longest-standing urban forestry programs: New York and Milwaukee.

Those attending the conference will explore the value of trees as part of urban green infrastructure, try to quantify the costs associated with poor urban forest management practices and examine the potential benefits that can be reaped from proper planning and maintenance.

Once these costs and benefits have been evaluated, urban foresters, utility vegetation managers and elected officials can make effective management decisions, according to the program’s website, http://www.isa-arbor.com/events/eventsCalendar/index.aspx?ID=2077.

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Florida Sea Grant launches awareness campaign with Florida Trend reports

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Environment, IFAS

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Downtown Miami shore, seen from Biscayne Bay — Cutline below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To call attention to pressing coastal and ocean issues in Florida and the surrounding region, Florida Sea Grant has launched an awareness campaign that includes four special reports to be published in Florida Trend magazine, a monthly publication featuring statewide coverage of business and industry.

The year-long campaign, known as “Florida’s Changing Seas,” is meant to educate residents, visitors, policymakers and professionals in the state’s many maritime industries, said Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant, a statewide program hosted by the University of Florida and affiliated with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Florida is surrounded by water on three sides, and our state’s economy and lifestyle are inextricably connected to the ocean,” Havens said. “We want to facilitate a dialogue about how ocean resources can be used equitably and responsibly in the years to come, and our reports in Florida Trend highlight some of the most pressing issues.”

The first report addresses coastal access and appears in the March issue of Florida Trend, available now. Upcoming reports will focus on aquaculture (April issue), the economic impact of artificial reefs (June issue) and the safety and sustainability of Florida’s seafood (September.) Additional components of the campaign include news releases, social media posts, photographs and video items.

Coastal access in Florida has increasingly become a matter of public concern as publicly accessible marinas, boatyards and boat ramps are being displaced by high-value construction such as condominiums and hotels. Boaters have been left with fewer options for getting their craft in and out of the water, even as the number of registered boaters has increased, Havens said.

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