Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New Environment Publications, February/March 2016

February & March’s Environment #EDISPubs offerings include

·         Environment: giant reeds, conservation programs, educational signage, and exposing kids to nature.

·         Ecosystems & Species: leprosy in armadillos; coyotes; green poison parasol mushrooms



Biology, Control and Invasive Potential of Giant Reed (Arundo donax L.) in Florida

Arundo donax (L.), also known as giant reed, is a tall, fast-growing, bamboo-like grass that under ideal conditions can reach a height of up to 30 feet and a stem diameter up to 1.5 inches. Giant reed is invasive and difficult to control and has caused economic losses in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This species was introduced to Florida over 100 years ago and is currently naturalized in at least 26 of the 67 Florida counties. So far giant reed has not proved problematic in Florida, but recent permitting of its planting for bioenergy feed stock may increase the risk that it could naturalize into plant communities in Florida and other southeastern states and potentially cause economic losses as well as harm to native species and habitats. This 5-page fact sheet written by Pat Minogue and Seth Wright and published by the School of Forest Resources and Conservation describes the biology of this species and explains some strategies for its control.

Conservation Reserve Program: Overview and Discussion

The Conservation Reserve Program, a governmental initiative with the goal of protecting the environment by retiring less productive but environmentally sensitive cropland from production, is by far the largest-scale, biggest-budgeted conservation program in the United States. The program has been a success, improving the land allocation of primary crop production and providing environmental benefits, but it is currently confronted with government budget cuts, and some farmers are reluctant to participate. This 5-page fact sheet written by Juhyun Oh and Zhengfei Guan and published by the Food and Resource Economics Department provides an overview of the Conservation Reserve Program and discusses relevant issues for Florida.


Conservation Subdivision: Post-construction Phase: Creating Signs to Educate Residents

Installing educational signs is one way to increase awareness and participation in conservation activities. This six-page fact sheet written by Mark Hostetler and published by the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation explains how to create educational signs and install them in residential neighborhoods as a way to inform residents about biodiversity conservation. The fact sheet, one of the UF/IFAS Conservation Subdivision series, explains how to design effective signs, how to manage a series of signs to keep the information fresh, and how to maintain the signs to ensure that residents and visitors to the community continue to benefit and maintain their homes, yards, and neighborhoods sustainably for years to come.


United States Biofuel Policies: Overview and Discussion

Governments at different levels in the United States have introduced various programs to promote alternative and renewable energies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy security. Some of these policy initiatives include mandates and tax credits to encourage the production of biofuels. As governmental efforts to promote renewable fuels as alternative sources of energy have evolved from subsidization to mandate, the production of biofuels has dramatically increased. The expansion of the mandate may contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but biofuels may be technically, economically, and environmentally inefficient. This 4-page fact sheet written by Zhengfei Guan and Juhyun Oh and published by the Food and Resource Economics Department reviews and discusses current US biofuel policies and explores potential outcomes.


Why is Exposure to Nature Important in Early Childhood?

Early childhood is a crucial period for the physical and cognitive development of children. Most people who care for young children realize that children benefit from playing outside, but caretakers might not have ready access to the literature that supports their observations. This 4-page fact sheet written by Kristen Poppell and Martha C. Monroe and published by the School of Forest Resources and Conservation reviews some of the literature that shows that young children need to go outside and be around nature regularly. It describes some of the benefits children (and adults!) gain from learning and playing outdoors and includes suggestions for several resources for parents, teachers, and caretakers who hope to increase these opportunities for their youngsters.


Ecosystems and Species

New & Revised Featured Creatures Publications

·         Paper Wasp, Red Wasp (Suggested Common Names) Polistes carolina (L.) (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

·         Broad-Tipped Conehead Katydid (suggested common name) Neoconocephalus triops (Linnaeus, 1758) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Conocephalinae)

·         Viburnum Leaf Beetle Pyrrhalta viburni (Paykull) (Insecta: Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

·         Strawberry Leafroller Ancylis comptana (Frölich) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)

·         Stable Fly Stomoxys calcitrans (L.) (Insecta: Diptera: Muscidae)


Facts about Wildlife Diseases: Leprosy

Worldwide, 250,000 new cases of leprosy are reported each year, and in the United States, approximately 150 new cases of leprosy are diagnosed each year. Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae) is a bacterial disease that infects the skin and nerves, causing disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and occasionally lung damage if left untreated. Leprosy is spread between humans via respiratory droplets when people sneeze or cough. In the southeast United States, handling armadillos is thought to be the source of many infections. This 4-page fact sheet written by Shannon P. Moore and Samantha M. Wisely and published by the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department describes the disease in humans and armadillos and explains how to avoid it and limit its spread.

The Green-Spore Poison Parasol Mushroom,Chlorophyllum molybdites

The “false parasol” or “green-spored parasol” mushroom (Chlorophyllum molybdites) is a poisonous mushroom that is the most common cause of mushroom poisoning in the United States. This mushroom is widely distributed throughout Florida and the southeastern United States. It commonly creates a complete or incomplete “fairy ring” in lawns, grassy areas, and open woods. When mature, the green-spored parasol mushroom has a large cap, a ring around its stem, and a greenish color on the underside of its gills. This four-page fact sheet describes the morphology, ecology, and distribution of the green-spored mushroom as well as its toxicology and how to treat poisoning from this mushroom. Written by Lisbeth Espinoza and Matthew E. Smith, and published by the Plant Pathology department.

Preventing Foodborne and Non-foodborne Illness: Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in warm brackish and saltwater environments. During the warmer months, this bacterium can reach particularly high concentrations in filter-feeding shellfish that inhabit coastal waters. Foodborne illness from V. vulnificus is almost exclusively associated with consumption of raw oysters. This 3-page fact sheet is a major revision that discusses risk of infection, times to seek medical treatment, symptoms, activities related to illness, foods commonly associated with the bacterium, handling and storage of seafood and shellfish, and methods of prevention. Written by Anita C. Wright, Renée M. Goodrich, Michael A. Hubbard, and Keith R. Schneider, and published by the UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Department. Original publication date: July 2009. Revised October 2015.

Rancher Perceptions of the Coyote in Florida

Throughout the continental United States and large portions of Canada and Central America, changes people make to the landscape such as the clearing of forested land and the extermination of larger predators like gray and red wolves have made the environment perfect for the adaptive coyote. Coyotes have rapidly taken advantage of these environmental shifts and expanded into new areas, now including all 67 counties in Florida and even Key Largo. Each year more people in Florida catch a glimpse of a coyote crossing a road or running across open fields, or notice coyote scat along a hiking trail–and farmers and ranchers are seeing signs of coyotes on their farms.

As coyotes become a fixture of the Florida landscape, potential grows for conflict with humans. Coyotes are in Florida to stay, and understanding the agricultural community’s perception of their influence on livestock and wildlife is important to developing effective policies for coyote management. This 4-page fact sheet written by Raoul K. Boughton, Bethany Wight, and Martin B. Main and published by the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department provides results of ongoing statewide surveys of ranchers in Florida regarding the influence of coyotes on their operations.


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