The UF / IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) is a multidisciplinary research, teaching and extension unit. As extension being one of the pillars of CAIP’s mission, the team of researchers works hard to educate agencies, the public and other stakeholders about the importance of controlling invasive and aquatic plants not only in Florida, but across the nation.
In October of 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Eustis Freshwater Fisheries Lab (FWC) hosted a four week-long seminar to teach their team more about aquatic invasive plant management. Dr. Jason Ferrell, Dr. Benjamin Sperry, and Dr. James Leary of UF/IFAS CAIP presented on topics including hydrilla, mechanical harvesting, aquatic plant management, and the science behind maintenance control. Stakeholder concern for aquatic plant management led the FWC to host a seminar regarding the topic.
“We are educating folks early and often, so they are able to make informed decisions and communicate confidently with their stakeholders using science-based information,” Dr. Sperry said.
Fisheries stakeholders often share a common thread with aquatic plant stakeholders as they tend to use the similar waterbodies with similar environments. The collaboration of this seminar has led to opportunities for growth from those in attendance. Some attendees have even taken the initiative to reach out to CAIP for more information on each topic allowing them to better serve their stakeholder group.
“Communication keeps the research, science, and management moving forward,” Nick Tripple said.
Dr. Ferrell, Dr. Sperry and Nick all agreed communication is one of the keys to success when dealing with issues such as invasive plant research because they have statewide impacts. Interacting with varied groups of researchers, managers and biologists is one way to stay informed about every aspect of aquatic environments leading to further discoveries and collaborations.
This seminar series is usually an event occurring once a month and in person prior to the pandemic. They are hosted in order for the fisheries team to become more knowledgeable about all aspects of the aquatic environment. The more they know about the environment as a whole, the more they are able assist in answering their questions.
Nick Tripple, FWC biologist said typically about 20 to 30 people attend the seminar in person. However, because the seminar was virtual, about 75 people logged into each of the four seminars. As there was so much interest in this seminar from staff members, another five week-long seminar series on herbicides is planned to begin in mid-January. While this seminar is not open to the public, it has sparked new avenues for CAIP to share the importance of invasive aquatic plant control.
Shelby Thomas, UF/IFAS CAIP communications manager, wrote this piece. Any questions should be directed to Shelby Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, please visit http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu. Be sure to follow us on social @UFIFASCAIP.
UF/IFAS CAIP, Turning Science Into Solutions.