Lakewatch: the legacy
 Program news
 Conservation genetics of Florida's...
 Stable isotopes characterize aquaculture...
 Interview with Kim Bonvechio,...
 Florida ecosystems in the...

Group Title: Waterworks
Title: Waterworks. November 2006.
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00067314/00014
 Material Information
Title: Waterworks. November 2006.
Series Title: Waterworks
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publication Date: November 2006
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00067314
Volume ID: VID00014
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Table of Contents
    Lakewatch: the legacy
        Page 1
    Program news
        Page 2
    Conservation genetics of Florida's aquatic wildlife
        Page 3
    Stable isotopes characterize aquaculture pond dynamics
        Page 4
    Interview with Kim Bonvechio, MS
        Page 5
    Florida ecosystems in the spotlight
        Page 6
Full Text


Newsletter of the UF/IFAS Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences November 2006

F lorida LAKEWATCH had its 20th
anniversary in August 2006! In
1986, Dr. Daniel E. Canfield, Jr.
founded Florida LAKEWATCH when
the first water samples were collected
by LAKEWATCHERS at Lake Santa Fe
(Alachua County) and Lake Broward
(Putnam County). Since 1986,
LAKEWATCHERS have sampled more
than 1000 Florida lakes and numerous
near-shore coastal waters in 50
counties. Today, about 1,800 volunteers
help monitor more than 600 lakes and
150 coastal sites.
The Florida Legislature recognized
the importance of Florida LAKEWATCH
to Florida in 1991 when it officially
established LAKEWATCH within what
then was the Department of Fisheries
and Aquaculture at UF/IFAS (Chapter
91-69; s. 240.5329, F.S.; now F.S.
1004.49). Section 1004.49 of the
Florida Statutes states:
"The Florida LAKEWATCH Program is
hereby created within the Department
of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the
Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences at the University of Florida.
The purpose of the program is to provide
public education and training with
respect to the water quality of Florida's
lakes. The Department of Fisheries and
Aquaculture may, in implementing
the LAKEWATCH program: (1) Train,
supervise, and coordinate volunteers
to collect water quality data from

Florida's lakes. (2) Compile the data
collected by volunteers. (3) Disseminate
information to the public about the
LAKEWATCH program. (4) Provide or
loan equipment to volunteers in the
program. (5) Perform other functions
as may be necessary or beneficial in
coordinating the LAKEWATCH program.
Data collected and compiled shall be
used to establish trends and general
background information and shall in
no instance be used in a regulatory
Since 1991, LAKEWATCHERS have
made the LAKEWATCH program
Florida's and the nation's premier citizen
volunteer monitoring program. The
efforts of the LAKEWATCH volunteers
are at the core of a steady stream of
data routinely tapped by state, regional
and local water resource managers,
lake homeowners associations,
educational institutions, consultants,
and the general public seeking to better
understand and protect local lakes.
Over time, the volunteers' efforts have
resulted in a massive aquatic (lakes,
rivers, streams and nearshore coastal)
database maintained at LAKEWATCH's
headquarters in UF's Department of
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.
Data are provided to all requesters.
LAKEWATCH, however, is more than
just awater-quality monitoring program.
It is a comprehensive aquatic education
program. LAKEWATCHERS monitor

bacteria, aquatic plants, fish and
aquatic birds. Academic scholars have
produced more than 30 major scientific
publications related to Florida's aquatic
systems. LAKEWATCH has produced
a book "Living at the Lake", nine
informational circulars for beginners
interested in the aquatic sciences and
numerous other lay-publications to
assist citizens with their understanding
of how lakes function. LAKEWATCH
has helped citizens at Lake Tsala
Apopka (Citrus County), Lake Wales
(Polk County), and the Forest Hills
lakes (Hillsborough County) develop
comprehensive lake management plans
for their waters. LAKEWATCH is also
now working very closely with the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission to develop a long-term
fisheries monitoring program of Florida's
major fisheries lakes.
So whatdoes thefuture hold for Florida
LAKEWATCH? Calls for assistance from
citizens and governmental agencies
come to LAKEWATCH everyday
from throughout Florida. To meet the
demands, LAKEWATCH plans to expand
the number of lakes and near-shore
coastal areas itsamples. Current funding
and facilities, however, limit expansion.
With this in mind, Dr. Dan Canfield, the
LAKEWATCH staff, students and highly
motivated LAKEWATCH volunteers
are attempting to expand the program
and make it more stable to make sure
LAKEWATCH can help the citizens of
Florida long into the future.

For more details about Florida
LAKEWATCH, including how to become
a volunteer, maps showing locations
of sampling sites, program circulars,
and information about the program
expansion and fund raising, visit this
webpage: http://lakewatch.ifas.ufl.edu.

CJ4tY Offi

1q4UM P

Program News

ntegrative Fisheries Science will be the focus of a new
program area in the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic
Sciences. Currently, the program is in a planning stage
with participation by colleagues from state and federal
resource management agencies. The purpose is to harness
the broad expertise that exists in the Department and
across UF to address present and emerging issues regarding
sustainable management of marine and freshwater fish
and the ecosystems in which they occur.

Faculty in this program will work closely with agencies to
address critical information needs related to allocation of
harvest, fishing effort in time and space, components of
fish mortality, essential fish habitat, and fish community
dynamics. They also will explicitly address human impacts
including increasing fishing pressure, development,
introduction of non-native species, reduced freshwater
flow, stochastic events including hurricanes and drought,
and other human dimensions of fisheries science. The
program will be a catalyst for interdisciplinary teams of
university and agency scientists to provide innovative
solutions for fisheries management problems.

The program will advance the field through cutting edge
science and technology development, will serve fisheries
management agencies through continuing education
workshops, collaborative research, and quantitative
consulting and expertise. It will address the critical
shortage of individuals trained in quantitative methods
of fish stock assessment and modeling with a specialized
curriculum in Integrative Fisheries Science, recognizing
the need for scientists who can perform single-species
and multi-species stock assessments and also assist their
agencies in moving towards ecosystem management.

This iniative began with development of a comprehensive
Action Plan, written by the faculty and students, and with
active participation by our colleagues from state and
federal agencies including the National Marine Fisheries
Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS and
Water Management Districts.

The plan is being revised in response to agency input,
and then will be advanced with action items to achieve
the specific goals and objectives. To fully accomplish the
program goals, the Department will pursue additional
faculty positions in fisheries modeling, spatial statistics,

Faculty and students in one of the break-out groups at the September
2006 retreat to develop a draft action plan for the Integrative Fisheries
Science Program.

and human dimensions -- as well as funding for
infrastructure upgrades including state-of-the-art GIS
and core research laboratories and field equipment. We
envision this program supporting visiting scholars, post-
doctoral research associates, and a substantial number of
graduate students. Major outputs from this program will
include -

* Graduates with the quantitative statistical and
modeling skills that are essential to being highly
competent fisheries scientists or managers
* Research in sustainable fisheries science that is of
regional, national and global significance
* Extensive collaboration with state and federal
agencies to advance the tools available for
sustainable fisheries management
* Innovative and effective continuing education
opportunities for employees of state and federal
fisheries management agencies

Overarching principles of this new initiative include
supporting the Land Grant Mission, ensuring data legacy,
and working in a manner that is complementary to the
programs of our state and federal agency partners and
supportive of their mandates. The Department intends for
this program to be a model of highly effective agency-
academic partnership.

For more information or to obtain a copy of the Action Plan
mentioned in this article, contact Dr. Havens at khavens@
ufl.edu or by phone at 352-392-9617 ext 232.

Faculty F
The use of genetic information to
identify conservation priorities
plays an important role in fisheries
and wildlife management. There are a
number of powerful tools in the genetics
toolbox that complement traditional
biological data. For example, genetic
information can provide support for,
or highlight deficiencies in, various
management plans. In many cases,
such as when species are difficult to
observe, genetic tools provide the best
(or only) means of understanding a
species' ecology.

Genetic information is used here to identify the
geographic distribution of ecotypes within a
particular aquatic species.

Conservation genetics draws
from numerous subdisciplines of
evolutionary biology and ecology,
including population genetics and
behavioral ecology, and is increasingly
inter-disciplinary. An example is the
young field of landscape genetics, that
combines genetics with landscape (or
seascape) information to understand
the role geography plays in structuring
populations and stocks. Conservation
genetics will play an increasingly
crucial role in the management and
conservation of Florida's wildlife and
fisheries as human population growth
and the associated pressure on natural
resources and habitats in Florida

Dr. Jim Austin's
research program
focuses on
ofhabitat at
and alteration on population genetic
diversity and ultimately the persistence
of populations of Florida's wildlife.
Jim Austin joined the Institute for
Food and Agricultural Sciences
(IFAS) in January 2006, coming from
a postdoctoral position at Cornell
University in New York. Jim Austin
is cross-appointed between the
Departments of Fisheries & Aquatic
Sciences and Wildlife Ecology &
Conservation, and his research
includes a broad array of species and
ecosystems. Jim Austin's research
background is in population genetics
and phylogeography (the study of
the natural processes that shape the
distribution of lineages) of aquatic
amphibians important ecological
components of freshwater ecosystems.
However, his research interests span
a variety of ecological systems, from
desert mammals to Florida's stream
Many aquatic and terrestrial species
have become endangered because
of the elimination and fragmentation
of their habitat, human alteration
of the environment, and pressures
brought on by introduced species.
New applications and insights from
genetic studies of both endangered
and common species are being used to
formulate management plans to prevent
extinction of endangered taxa. Genetic
data offer insight into the history of
populations through the comparison of
'ancient' DNA with modern samples,
or through powerful analytical
techniques that can reconstruct a
population's history from contemporary

DNA sequences. For example, genetic
data can be used to infer the change in
size of a population over time, rates of
inter-specific hybridization, and levels
of inbreeding in small populations.
Exciting developments in analytical
methods also allow the use of genetic
data in a forward-planning, predictive
manner, such as estimating the impacts
of man-made barriers in streams or the
effect of additional artificial reefs.
Jim Austin is also working with the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission to evaluate the genetic
implications of Florida's bass hatchery
practices. The potential for poor survival
and recruitment in released hatchery
bass is high, and emphasizes the
need for consideration of the genetic
composition of stocked bass alongside
the need to maintain production.

For additional information about Dr. Austin's
program in conservation genetics, please contact
him by email at austinj@ufl.edu or by phone at
352-392-9617ext. 280.

jon Kao is a PhD student working at the Tropical
Aquaculture Laboratory (TAL). His major advisor is
Dr. Chuck Cichra.

F lorida's ornamental fish industry is located
primarily in Southern and Central Florida
(Miami area, Hillborough and Polk counties) where
winter temperatures are usually mild. Fish are
raised in small earthen ponds (ca 0.1-0.25 hectares)
located in areas where they are filled by ground
water usually located a meter or less beneath grade.
Fish production in pond aquaculture systems is
often variable among individual ponds and these
differences can persist through time, regardless of
similarities in soil type, water quality, and physical
environments. Florida's ornamental fish industry
accounts for nearly half of all aquaculture revenues
in Florida, generating tax revenue for state and local
governments as well as providing employment
opportunities. However, profit margins for fish
farmers are typically small due to operational
expenses and competition from low-cost overseas
imports. Of these operational expenses, feed and
fertilizer expenses are second only to labor costs.
To remain competitive with foreign producers
and remain profitable under the pressure of rising
land prices, domestic producers will need to
maintain high levels of production throughout their
culture facilities, and will be increasingly intolerant
of low production ponds. Due to these economic
pressures, a frequently asked question is whether
fish primarily obtain their nutrition from expensive
commercial feeds, from live organisms resulting from
primary and secondary production (best supported
by relatively cheap fertilizers), or a combination
of the two. We will answer this question by using
nitrogen and carbon stable isotope tracers to
characterize the fate of nutrients from fish feeds and
fertilizers in aquaculture ponds.
One of the current research projects being
carried out at the University of Florida's Tropical
Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, Florida is to
raise six 'common' tropical ornamental freshwater
species in 24 research ponds. Six ponds are assigned
to each of four different treatments: processed
'cooked' feed, unprocessed feed, inorganic fertilizer

and cottonseed meal organic
fertilizer. We have assumed
that fish that are in the feed
treatments are eating the feeds
directly while supplementing
their diet with live foods, and that fish in the
fertilizer treatments are obtaining their nutrition
exclusively from live food production stimulated
by fertilizer addition.
My research project consists of tracing the flow of
nutrients from these formulated feeds and fertilizer
inputs to the target species (swordtails; Family
Poeciliidae) using stable isotopes of nitrogen
and carbon. Stable (non-radioactive) isotopes of
common elements occur naturally and biological
materials typically differ isotopically depending
upon geographic location, trophic position and
the nature of the food web base in the ecosystem
of origin. Differences in the isotopic composition
of biological materials typically occurs due to
differences in the thermodynamic properties (e.g.,
rates of diffusion, enzyme kinetics of substrates) of
atoms and molecules that have differing amounts
of these stable isotopes; a carbon dioxide
molecule that has a carbon of the more common
isotope (molecular weight of 12) will move more
quickly than a carbon dioxide molecule that has
a heavier carbon isotope (m.w. of 13). Because of
these physical differences, heavier isotopes tend
to accumulate within an organism over time.
By tracing these nutrients through the various
organisms within these ponds it will allow us to
understand the internal nutrient cycling occurring
within aquaculture pond food webs, and may
allow us to consistently produce high pond
production rates. By maximizing the nutrient
transfer from feeds or fertilizer inputs through the
fewest trophic levels, efficiency of nutrient transfer
can be increased.

An experimental aquaculture pond used in the research

Student Spotlight

St udl e nt

Si IFa ccTilty

N(e)v v s

Dr. Daryl Parkyn,
Dr. Bill Lindberg,
and Mr. Paul
received a Fellowship
Training Grant from the
Morris Animal Foundation
in support of Mr. Anderson's
PhD research project
dealing with sound, stress,
sex and seahorses.

Dr. Deb Murie
was installed
as President of
the Marine
Fisheries Section of the
American Fisheries Society
at the annual meeting in
September in Lake Placid,

Mark Rogers
received a John
Skinner Memorial
Fund Award,
from the
Southern Division of the
American Fisheries Society.

Emily Mitchem
won the Best
Paper Award
from the
University Scholars
Program for a presentation
on her undergraduate
research project dealing
with ;.,.... mussels (mentor
Dr. Shirley Baker). Emily
now is a Masters student
in the Department i. .- il'r.
with Dr. Tom Frazer.

Rlmni Alert
Kim Bonvechio (MS, 2001) is a Scientist with the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She is a
former graduate student of Dr. Mike Allen. The following
text is excerpted from an interview posted online at

What are you working on now?
I was hired to establish standardized protocols for
sampling freshwater fishes in inland waters of the state.
In the past, each field and regional office conducted fish
surveys independent of each other. Because of this, data
were collected in different ways with multiple gear types
or configurations, and at various times of the year. In
order to streamline data collection and entry procedures
and improve our science-based management practices,
a standardized sampling manual and freshwater fisheries
database were created. My current work mostly revolves
around the maintenance and continual improvement of
these products.

Was fisheries work your original career interest?
No, not at all. In fact when I was growing up, my three
brothers wouldn't even let me go fishing with them. "You're
a girl! Girls don't fish!" they always told me. So initially,
I was geared towards marine biology with a particular
interest in marine mammals. However during my
undergraduate career, I was introduced to many different
facets of fisheries, including working with otoliths of
spotted sea trout and barramundi, conducting stream fish
surveys with backpack electrofishing, and participating
on a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) research
cruise for a larval cod predation study. I started thinking
that fish were pretty cool. When I moved to Florida and
met Dr. Mike Allen, the biggest fishing fanatic I have ever
met (next to my husband), I dove head first into fishing
and fisheries management. I haven't looked back since.

What do you like most about your career?
Mostly, the flexibility and job diversity. I have been able
to keep a flexible work schedule. Because of that, I feel
confident that when I have a family, I will be able to attend
most of my children's activities such as school plays and
sports events. Family is very important to me so my job's
flexibility is a big plus. Additionally, no two days are alike
with my job. There is always something different to do:
a new question to answer or a new problem to solve.
This keeps me motivated by challenging me to learn new
things and improve myself professionally.

What advice would you give to someone interested in
pursuing a career in your field?

I'll try to summarize the main tidbits of advice I would
like to pass along to our future scientists:

* While in college, get involved with professional
organizations and clubs and volunteer or work in as many
different areas related to your field as possible. In addition
to gaining valuable work experience, you will also gain
important skills that will help you professionally such as
leadership and time management skills.

* When choosing your college classes, take a look at
job boards to find out what skills are being most sought
after. Then, take courses to coincide with those. Additional
skills will make you more marketable when applying for

* In the beginning of your career, it is easy to be
unsure of yourself and your abilities. You will constantly
question yourself, "Can I really do this?" Yes, you can and
yes, it is completely normal to feel that way. Will you
make mistakes? Yes. Will you learn some hard lessons?
Sure. But so has everyone else.

* Be flexible and open-minded in your learning. By
that I mean don't be afraid to learn and try new things
because you never know what you might be missing.

* Always strive to improve yourself professionally
and personally. Even when you are finished with school,
learning never ends. There are so many lessons in life to
learn so embrace learning throughout your life.

* No matter how talented you are or how much you
accomplish in life, always retain your humility. Every
person, no matter what their degree or profession, has
something to offer to you and the world. There is a great
saying by Reverend. Jesse Jackson, "Never look down on
a man, unless you are helping him up"


Is an increase in nitrate compromising the ecological health
and integrity of Florida's spring-fed coastal rivers?

By: Tom Frazer

itrate occurs naturally in aquatic systems, including springs that feed -
rivers along Florida's Gulf coast. Nitrate is assimilated by aquatic plants
and algae and is one of several nutrients that contribute to their growth. An
increase in the supply of nitrate has the potential to stimulate growth with negative ecological consequences. In fact, excessive
nutrient enrichment may favor the development of nuisance plant and algal species and may ultimately lead to the decline of native
vegetation. Increased periphyton growth on rooted aquatic plants as a consequence of increased nutrient input can exacerbate the
situation. Such a scenario is a commonly observed eutrophication progression scheme in aquatic systems worldwide.
The potential eutrophication of Florida's spring-fed rivers, as a result of increased nitrate delivery, is a primary concern for water
resource managers. Recent research carried out by faculty, staff and students in the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
suggests that several spring-fed river systems along Florida's Gulf coast have indeed been negatively affected by increased nutrient
inputs. Highlighted here are some key findings from theWeeki Wachee, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa rivers. Nitrate concentrations
have increased significantly in the springs that feed all three of these river systems. Since 1998, nitrate concentrations in the headwaters
of theWeeki Wachee River, have increased by approximately 50%. In the Chassahowitzka and Homosassa rivers, nitrate concentrations
near the spring complexes, which serve as the origin of flow, have increased by 20% and 6%, respectively. The increases in nitrate
concentration coupled with concomitant increases in flow rates in each of the three rivers has resulted in substantially greater nitrate
loads. In fact, calculated nitrate loading rates near the headwaters of the Weeki Wachee, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa rivers have
increased by 76%, 43% and 56%, respectively, since 1998.
Soluble reactive phosphorus concentrations have also increased significantly in each of the three river systems. This is particular
reason for concern given that previous work in these rivers has indicated a strong potential for phosphorus limitation of algal growth.
In the upper regions of the Weeki Wachee River, mean soluble reactive phosphorus concentrations increased by as much as 21%
since sampling was initiated in 1998. Increases of 19% and 15% were documented in the upper regions of the Chassahowitzka and
Homosassa rivers, respectively. Loading rates, calculated from data collected near the headwaters of the Weeki Wachee,
Chassahowitzka and Homosassa rivers, increased by 33%, 44% and 46%, respectively.
Coincident with the increased nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and higher nutrient loading rates, were marked declines in
submersed aquatic vegetation in each of the three rivers. The Weeki Wachee River exhibited an approximate 75% reduction in mean
SAV biomass. A similar reduction was observed in the Homosassa River, i.e., 67%. An approximate 31% reduction in mean SAV
biomass was observed in the Chassahowitzka River. Noteworthy was the observed decline in the frequency of occurrence of native
species such as Vallisneria americana (tape grass) in the Homosassa River and Sagittaria kurziana (strap-leaf sagittaria) in the
Chassahowitzka River. The abundance of periphyton associated with rooted macrophytes increased significantly in both the
Homosassa and Chassahowitzka. In fact, mean periphyton abundance on the remnant macrophyte population in the Homosassa
was nearly twice as high (85% increase) during 2003-2005 than it was in 1998-2000. In the Chassahowitzka River, the increase in
mean periphyton abundance on macrophytes was 30% during the same time interval.
The changes noted above are, in combination, legitimate reasons for concern. Increased nutrient delivery, loss of native macrophytes
and increased periphyton loads are symptomatic of eutrophication-related phenomena. The potential broader consequences of
nutrient over-enrichment on the ecological health and integrity of the Weeki Wachee, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa rivers,
however, have yet to be fully investigated. Continued monitoring of these systems is ongoing and essential to evaluate the effectiveness
of ongoing nutrient reduction strategies and future remediation efforts aimed at reversing the negative effects of nutrient over-

WaterWorks is produced by the UF/IFAS Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, 7922 NW 71st Street, Gainesville,
FL, 32653. Editor: Dr. Karl Havens, Chair khavens@ufl.edu

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