Tag Archive: Shows

An Early Study Shows the Invasion of the Asian Tiger Shrimp Could Have an Impact on Native Shrimp

An Early Study Shows the Invasion of the Asian Tiger Shrimp Could Have an Impact on Native Shrimp

The Asian Tiger Shrimp (Penaeus monodon) have been reported across the northern Gulf of Mexico for several years now but unlike Cogon grass, Chinese tallow, and Lionfish they have not really made the press.  We know they are there, but captures in shrimp trawls seem to be infrequent… it just does not look like a serious problem.

The Asian Tiger Shrimp can reach lengths of 12"

The Asian Tiger Shrimp can reach lengths of 12″

But now there is a study being conducted by Dr. Jennifer Hill (Louisiana Tech University) that sheds a little light on the impacts of this new invasive species. Working out of Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and funded by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, her study is looking at the interactions between the tiger shrimp and our native species – the white and brown shrimp.

 

Tiger Shrimp as Predators

Dr. Hill has discovered that tiger shrimp do not prefer salt marshes, as our native species do. They are apparently too large, ranging between 8 and 10 inches – some as large as 14 inches, and prefer more open environments.  Tiger shrimp may prefer seagrass beds, another haunt for local shrimp, but she is not sure at the moment.  She has noticed that when tiger shrimp are around the native shrimp move towards structure.  This is to avoid predation by tiger shrimp, which do try and catch them – but they are not very good at it.  Her study indicates that 80-90% of the native shrimp survive such attacks, but forcing the natives towards structure could impact the catch by our shrimpers.

 

Tiger Shrimp as Prey

Preferring open environments leaves tiger shrimp at a higher risk of predation. One thought is that their large size and dark color may not be recognized as a shrimp by local predators.  One species that has shown interest in them are redfish.  Dr. Hill has found that redfish will not hesitate to go after them, and may actually prefer them over white shrimp, but – because of the size of the tiger shrimp – it must be a large redfish.

Five tiger shrimp captured by shrimpers in Pensacola Bay.

Five tiger shrimp captured by shrimpers in Pensacola Bay.

Shrimpers in Alabama and Mississippi are currently selling the tiger shrimp they capture to Dr. Hill for her studies. She found that very few were captured in 2014, possibly due to the cold winter that year, but had plenty submitted in 2015.  The mild winter of 2016 may produce a large number this summer.  If you are shrimper in the Pensacola area, and interested in selling live tiger shrimp at $ 30 each, contact Dr. Hill at (251) 861-2141 ext. 2179.

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/03/an-early-study-shows-the-invasion-of-the-asian-tiger-shrimp-could-have-an-impact-on-native-shrimp/

UF Survey Shows Most Floridians Want to Know More about Genetically Modified Foods

Fewer than half of Florida consumers survey by the UF PIE Centersay they would purchase genetically modied food or clothing, even if it cost less or was their favorite food.

Fewer than half of 500 Florida consumers surveyed say they would purchase genetically modied food or clothing, even if it cost less or was their favorite food.  Source: UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education.

While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods. “The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”

The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.

Source: Center for Public Issues Education

A recent survey of 500 Florida consumers shows that only 33% considered genetically modified foods as safe.  Source: Center for Public Issues Education

However, there is a great potential to educate Floridians about the topic, as 64 percent of respondents indicated that they would like to learn more about genetically modified foods. Only 22 percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed that they received information about genetically modified food from a scientist, but 59 percent of respondents would like to learn more from universities.  “This is a great opportunity not only for UF but also for other educational institutions across the country to take the lead in educating the general public about genetically modified foods,” Rumble said.

In addition, many Floridians were favorable toward supporting research, with 42 percent agreeing that studies about genetically modified food are essential for improving the quality of life. Almost half agreed that the federal government should support research on genetically modified food. “The research results show opportunities to continue to educate and communicate with consumers about the safety of genetically modified food,” Rumble said. “Still, there is some negative perception about these foods out there.” For example, fewer than half of Florida’s residents say they would purchase genetically modified food or clothing, even if it cost less or was their favorite food. But, more than 40 percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed they have purchased genetically modified food in the past, while only 27 percent of Floridians believe they currently purchase genetically modified food.

PG

Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/02/uf-survey-shows-most-floridians-want-to-know-more-about-genetically-modified-foods/

April Shows DO Bring May Flowers – Discovering the Panhandle – Barrier Islands

April Shows DO Bring May Flowers – Discovering the Panhandle – Barrier Islands

 

This month there were many more plants flowering… it is true that April showers do bring May flowers. May not only brings more flowers but more tourists. Everyone is out enjoying the weather, including some wildlife. I was happy to include Florida Master Naturalist Paul Bennett on this hike and he was very helpful identifying plants. Thanks Paul!

 

Tent set up on Pensacola beach to protect from the sun.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Tent set up on Pensacola beach to protect from the sun. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Sign altering and educating folks that this is a sea turtle nest.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Sign altering and educating folks that this is a sea turtle nest. Photo: Rick O’Connor

 

It is sea turtle nesting season all along the Florida Panhandle. The season begins in May and ends in October. This time of the season the females are heading up the beach looking for good nesting locations near dunes. There are five species of marine turtles that inhabit the northern Gulf and there are records of each species nesting here. They emerge at night and move towards the dunes where they excavate a deep cavity to lay about 100 eggs. The nest is covered and she returns to the water. The incubation period is between 60-70 days and the temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchling; the warmer eggs becoming females. It is illegal to disturb a sea turtle nest.

This tent was occupied when I was there but all too often they are left overnight so folks can return the same spot the following day. Tents and chairs are barriers for both nesting females and emerging hatchlings. If at all possible, remove these for the evening. In some counties it is required. Another problem is artificial lighting. Adult turtles are distracted, and many times abort the nesting activity due to bright lights. Most panhandle counties have a lighting ordinance that requires homes to use turtle friendly lighting. To learn more about the turtle friendly lighting program and local ordinances contact your county Sea Grant Agent at the local Extension office or visit http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea-turtles/lighting/.

 

This county sign marks a public snorkel reef and also educates everyone about lionfish.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

This county sign marks a public snorkel reef and also educates everyone about lionfish. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Mangrove seed washed ashore.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Mangrove seed washed ashore. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Summer means swimming and in many local counties there are interesting snorkel reefs nearby. We asked that everyone keep an eye out for the invasive lionfish as they enjoy their day. If one is spotted be aware they do have venomous, though not deadly, spines and please contact your local Sea Grant Agent at the county Extension office to let them know. If you are in Escambia County you can log your sighting at www.lionfishmap.org and FWC has a lionfish app for reporting; http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2014/may/28/lionfish-app/

The seed is of a red mangrove tree. These are common coastal plants in south Florida and elsewhere in the tropics. The red mangroves drops their seeds (propagules) into the water to drift in the currents to new locations. They frequently wash upon our shores and sometimes take root, but they do not last during our colder winters.

 

 

 

 

 

This Whitlow-Wort, also known as "square flower".  Common dune plant.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

This Whitlow-Wort, also known as “square flower”. Common dune plant. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Track of an unidentified snake crossing a dune.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Track of an unidentified snake crossing a dune. Photo: Rick O’Connor

The flower to the left is the Whitlow-Wort, or as some locals call it… “square flower”. The track is of a snake but could not find it so I am not sure which species. The weather warms quickly here along the Gulf coast. A few months ago we may have been able to find this animal but with the increasing heat they were in a cool place somewhere. Snake encounters this time of year are typically at dawn and dusk.

 

 

 

 

 

The seed pod of a milkweed. Photo: Rick O'Connor

The seed pod of a milkweed. Photo: Rick O’Connor

An open seed pod of a milkweed releasing seeds.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

An open seed pod of a milkweed releasing seeds. Photo: Rick O’Connor

The milkweed bloomed a few months ago but here in May we find both the seed pods and, in the photo to the right, the “dandelion-like” seeds being released. This is one of the plants used by the migrating monarchs, which we should see later in the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marsh Pink, a flower found in the wetter areas of the island.

Marsh Pink, a flower found in the wetter areas of the island.

Narrow-leaved Sagittaria.  Another water loving plant.

Narrow-leaved Sagittaria. Another water loving plant.

Here are two of the many flowers we saw today. Both of these were found in the freshwater ponds located in the swale areas of the barrier island. The flower to the left is known as Marsh Pink. The one to the right is Narrow-leaved Sagittaria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The yellow vine called "Love Vine"; correct name is Dodder.

The yellow vine called “Love Vine”; correct name is Dodder.

It is good to see bees on the island.

It is good to see bees on the island.

 

This orange-yellow stringy vine is called “Love Vine” but there is not much love here; this is a parasitic plant called Dodder. This is the first we have seen of it this year and expect to see more. Many residents on the island believe it to be an non-native invasive plant but it is actually a native and quite common out there. I have also seen it in the north end of Escambia County.

We did see a few bees today and this is a good sign. There have been reports in recent years of the decline of our native bees and the impact that has had on gardening and commercial horticulture. In addition to seeing bees Paul and I also came across the famous yellow fly. These were encountered near the marsh on the sound side of the island. Loads of fun there!

 

 

 

 

The "bed" made by an unknown animal that has been frequenting this location all year.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

The “bed” made by an unknown animal that has been frequenting this location all year. Photo: Rick O’Connor

This scat pile was near the location of the "bed" and along the drag marks made by this animal.

This scat pile was near the location of the “bed” and along the drag marks made by this animal.

If you have been following this series since we began in January you may recall the strange “bedding” and drag marks we have encountered near the marsh (you can read other issues on this website). I have seen these drag marks, and apparent bedding areas, every month except last. I showed them to Paul and we are still not sure what is making them. Again, whatever it is seems to move from one body of water to another. We cannot find in foot tracks to help identify it… but we will!

The photo to the right is of a large scat pile approximately 15-16” across. It was relatively fresh and contained crab and shrimp shell parts. Not sure if it was left by the same animal that continually makes the drags but was in the same location so…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pretty, but invasive, beach vitex.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

The pretty, but invasive, beach vitex. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Many of the plants on our barrier islands are blooming now, and so is this one. This is Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia). It is an invasive/not-recommended plant. Currently we are only aware of 22 properties in Escambia County that have it. Sea Grant is currently working with the SEAS program at the University of West Florida to assist in removing them. If you believe you have this plant and would like advice on how to remove contact your local Sea Grant Agent at the county Extension office.

 

Let’s see what shows up in June!

 

 

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/29/april-shows-do-bring-may-flowers-discovering-the-panhandle-barrier-islands/

1st Quarter Weather Summary Shows How Dry the Panhandle has Become

The National Weather Service estimates for the Florida Panhandle from January 1 through April 10.

The National Weather Service estimates for the Florida Panhandle from January 1 through April 10, 2015.

The promised weak El Niño did not deliver extra rainfall for the Panhandle the past three months .  Much of the region experienced abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions through the first three months of 2015.  The National Weather Service estimates for the first quarter show much of the agricultural region of the Western Panhandle received less than  10″ of rainfall, and the eastern counties less than 15″.

15 Jan-Mar Panhandle FAWN RainfallThe six Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) stations also showed the variation of rainfall for the the first three months of 2015.  The average for all six stations was only 10.7″ from January through the end of March.  Monticello was the wettest location with 14.2 inches, while the DeFuniak station only recorded 9.0″ over that same time period.  Most locations have a historic averages around 15 inches for the first quarter of the year.  Monticello and Carrabelle  were only an inch below average for the first quarter, but Jay was 8 inches below normal, DeFuniak 7″, and Marianna 6″ below historic averages.  The University of Florida has historic rainfall records dating back to 1952 at the Marianna research station.  The 9.4 inches recorded in January through March of 2015 is the lowest total in 26 years, when only 9.3″ fell in the first quarter of 1989.

4-7-15 FL Drought MonitorThe Florida Drought Monitor shows how dry the Panhandle has become.  This is not good news right at planting time for most of the major crops.

1st Qtr 2015 Marianna FAWN SummaryThe good news is that Temperatures have certainly risen in the last month.  Average air temperatures rose 15 degrees , and average soil temperatures 13 degrees in March as compared to February.

April 15 Soil TempsAverage soil temperatures have risen even more over the first 10 days of April, to the 68º minimum required for excellent peanut germination.  With a front moving in, growers should keep a close eye on this before planting to ensure soils remain warm enough for rapid plant growth.

April 15 CPC ForecastNOAA’s Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for April is encouraging with expectations for above average rainfall across the Southeast.  However, they also expected above average rainfall for March, which did not occur in the Panhandle.  Hopefully the needed rain will come in time for planting, now that the soil the soil is nearing the ideal temperatures for peanuts and cotton.

 

PG

Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Jackson County Extension Director, Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/11/1st-quarter-weather-summary-shows-how-dry-the-panhandle-has-become/

Research Shows: Volunteerism Promotes Better Health

Melanie G. Taylor
Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H Agent
Gulf County
metaylor@ufl.edu

The importance of volunteerism has always been strong, but in these tough times of economic hardship, natural disasters, and wartime, the number of volunteers helping those in need are not only helping others, but themselves, too.  Upon entering office, President Obama began a campaign-United We Serve.  This program is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative.

Gulf County 4-H volunteer assists with a 4-H lesson on healthy ocean life. Photo Credits: Melanie Taylor, Gulf County

An unexpected benefit through this initiative is that volunteers are helping themselves to better health while helping others.   According to the CNCS, over the past 20 years, there has been more and more research showing that volunteering provides health benefits in addition to social benefits.  The reports show that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression, and less incidence of heart disease.  “Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger,” said David Eisner, CEO of the CNCS.  “More than 61 million Americans volunteer to improve conditions for people in need and to unselfishly give of themselves. While the motivation is altruistic, it is gratifying to learn that their efforts are returning considerable health benefits.”

The studies, which were controlled for other factors, found that volunteering leads to improved physical and mental health.  The research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually.

The rewards go beyond better health. Other benefits reported by volunteers:

  • Being happier
  • Having better self esteem
  • Having a sense of control over their life

When questioned, some of the more common reasons that people give for giving of their time include:

  • It makes them feel better about themselves.
  • It helps them gain a better understanding of other people, places, and cultures.
  • It helps them meet new people, make new friends, or further their careers.
  • It is a good means of giving back to their communities and to supporting humanitarian causes.

So, if you have thought about volunteering, but have not, here is your reason to begin; if you already are, keep up the dedication.  With so many stressors in our lives these days, it’s important for us to find healthy ways to cope.  Volunteerism may be just the remedy you’re looking for.  Aim to make positive changes in your life and health today – VOLUNTEER and feel the benefits of giving to others.

To find local volunteer programs in your community, be sure to contact your local Extension Office, non-profit agencies, and other local community organizations.  For more information on the CNCS, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov.

Sources: Corporation for National and Community Service (http://www.nationalservice.gov) and Diabetes Education Voices Blog by American Association of Diabetes Educators (http://www.diabeteseducationblog.org/).

Living Well in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/02/03/research-shows-volunteerism-promotes-better-health/