This Week in RNR
- RNR WEEKLY SEMINAR: 11:30 am, Wednesday, 24 Sept 2014.
Room 142 RNR, coffee and cookies at 11:20am
Dr. Barbara Kleiss, Phd
Director, Mississippi River Science and Technology Program, Mississippi Valley Division, USACE
Presentation: Recent Advances in Mississippi River Diversion Science
Researchers study extent of feral hog damage in Louisiana:
You Can Help With Survey
This survey is designed to collect information about the economic impact on Louisiana agriculture by feral hogs. If you are a landowner completing the survey please consult with those renting/leasing/managing your land, if applicable.
More information and a link to download the survey is on our Extension page
Your responses are very important to the success of the study. The survey is completely confidential and only summary information will be reported in study results. The results of this survey will be shared through the LSU AgCenter.
The deadline for submitting the completed survey is 31 December 2014.
Researchers work to identify safer, more effective oil dispersants
LEFT: LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant researchers Chris Green and Andy Nyman are studying the effects of dispersants used after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. RIGHT: LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant researcher Chris Green holds a dish of FA-Glu, a microbe-based dispersant being used in experiments.
Photos by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
BATON ROUGE, La. – Four years ago, as nearly 5 million barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, desperate cleanup crews applied dispersants to break up the oil that people worried would have profoundly negative effects on coastal wetlands and wildlife.
But dispersants like COREXIT 9500A, which was used in 2010, may have made the oil even more dangerous to aquatic life, according to LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant scientists who have been studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Dispersants break oil into smaller pieces so it spreads throughout the water column. The downside is that they also make oil easier for fish and other life in the Gulf to ingest and absorb, said Chris Green, associate professor at the AgCenter's Aquaculture Research Station.
Green and AgCenter wetlands biologist Andy Nyman tested hundreds of Gulf killifish, a popular baitfish, and found that oil becomes less toxic over time, partially because bacteria that live in the Gulf eat the toxins. While fish populations take a significant hit when oil first spills, they are able to survive later on, Green said.
That doesn't necessarily mean those fish are healthy, however.
"They still had signs of toxicity in their bodies," Green said. "That can cause stresses, but probably not death. The toxins build up in their bodies, and they can have developmental, endocrine and reproductive health problems."
Salinity, which increases as one moves farther away from the coast, also affects the oil’s toxicity, Nyman said. Greater salinity causes common surfactants, a main ingredient of dispersants, to become more toxic, affecting a fish's ability to regulate ions.
There are many kinds of surfactants, including those found in everyday items like toothpaste and shampoo, but dispersants containing them make oil more toxic, he said.
Nyman and Green are testing FA-Glu, a dispersant made by Modular Genetics from microbes rather than chemicals. Nyman said FA-Glu looks to be less toxic, although it is not commercially available yet.
Nyman said there might be a relationship between the shape of dispersant molecules and their toxicity and effectiveness. If so, scientists could genetically engineer better microbes to create safer, better dispersants.
"We can't make the oil less toxic, but we can make the dispersant less toxic," Nyman said. "If we can help figure out how to design less toxic surfactants and more effective oil spill dispersants, that could make a huge difference, if we ever have an oil spill again."
Nyman and Green's work is funded by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
-- by: Olivia McClure. LSU AgCenter. 10 Sept 2014 [permalink]
RNR Faculty, Post-Docs' Study Gets Cover of BioScience
Congratulations to RNR faculty, Drs. Taylor and Stouffer and postdocs, Drs. Bergeon-Burns, and Woltmann, for getting the cover of the latest issue of BioScience (http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/9.cover-expansion)
Also check out their paper: Christine M. Bergeon Burns, Jill A. Olin, Stefan Woltmann, Philip C Stouffer, and Sabrina S. Taylor. Effects of Oil on Terrestrial Vertebrates: Predicting Impacts of the Macondo Blowout. BioScience (September 2014) 64 (9): 820-828 doi:10.1093/biosci/biu124.
-- Quick News --
- Follow Dr. Stouffer on sabbatical as a Fulbright Scholar in Tanzania: via his Flickr Feed
- 3rd Quarter 2014 Timber Tales is now available. The details and a link to the newsletter are available on our Extensions page.
- Arborist Workshops 2014: The 2014 schedule for Arborist Workshops and other learning opportunities has been updated, and registrations are open. For more information, see our Workshops page.
- As part of the LPB series "Alive in America's Delta", see our own Yu-Hsin Hsueh (Ph.D student of Dr. Chambers and Dr. Keim) as she talks about her own encounter with alligators while doing research in the swamp. This segment gives witness first-hand to how this keystone species – and cultural icon – was brought back to viability using a combination of biological science and marketplace economics. The full program can now be accessed on LPB online.
- The Spring 2014 issue of Research Matters is now available for download. Catch-up on the research highlights in forestry, wildlife, fisheries, and wetlands involving our RNR Faculty and talented Graduate Students. Also, see what is going on in our undergraduate classes with the "service-learning" aspect of our programs. The Spring 2014 issue download (pdf), is available on our Research Matters/Newsletter page.
- The Student Chapter of Society of American Foresters (SAF) has a new way to keep you informed, share their news and events, and keep in touch: They now have a Facebook page. LIKE their page, and keep up with all the latest! Support your local (student) Foresters!
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