Fort Pierce – Sunday, April 9, 2023; A PhD student at the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce has won a global award for his work to prevent timber from encroaching on Florida’s natural landscapes.
Sara Salgado studies at The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) in Fort Pierce. He works at the Norman C. Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory (BCRCL).
The centerpiece of the study is the acacia tree. Its branches are fragile, yellow, hair-like flowers. The tree is widespread in many areas of Florida, growing taller every year and shading the bush in its natural environment.
For that breach we need a graduate research scientist, officials with the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) Recognize Salgado with their Global Early Career Award. IOBC leaders will present Salgado with the prizes in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina on behalf of the organization. 16th* International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds. The evaluation presentation will take place in early May.
“Earleaf Acacia threatens native species and ecosystems,” Salgado said. “Like other invasive plants, like the theme Brazilian pepper tree and melaleuca“Acacia earwig infestations can cause economic damage and environmental impacts on Florida’s ecosystems.”
“Sarah’s work with a small wasp that attacks a plant pest will reduce the environmental and economic impact of invasive acacia trees in Florida and beyond. Sarah’s passion for science and understanding of how invasive organisms shape our world makes her a worthy recipient of this award,” she said. Carey Minteer assistant professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS BRCLwho oversees Salgadi’s graduate programs.
Minteer and his team are looking for research biological control The agents of the ear of the acacia are already spread over a hundred thousand acres. Biocontrol agents feed on invasive plants, often to reduce plant abundance, and see “natural control” returning to their native range. Acacia auricularis is a tree native to Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Acacia is not as common as other invasive plants, but it has spread more rapidly in recent years, Salgado said.
Salgado researches insects in areas where invasive plants are native, or domestic areas where they are often not problematic. The knowledge they acquire allows them to introduce the species of insects that feed on Lab Minteer trees for study in a high security container lab and greenhouse.
Salgado researches and evaluates small wasps to verify that only in the invasion of the acacia tree will it be golden. After rigorous testing and approval by state and federal officials, scientists hope to release a new biological control of this tree in Florida.
“One focus for my research involves identifying local insects that feed on acacia wood and evaluating a native psyllid in Australia that is already present in Florida,” said Salgado.
Other objectives for robust research programs should define host size germinating wasps from Australia, a candidate species for the biological control of Acacia aurifica. Part of the work with this species will include simulating the interaction between the wasp and the count acacia to find out if the two species could survive and coexist in Florida’s climate, Salgado said.
“Earleaf acacia is a very invasive plant that can thrive in wet environments and disturbed areas. This is one of our concerns as the Everglades is a sensitive and unique ecosystem in Florida that we want to protect,” Salgado said.
Salgado said he has made a lifelong commitment to promoting biological control to equalize the damage invasive species do in natural areas. Florida is a living laboratory for invasive species.
Salgado is from Ecuador, where invasive species are a major concern. They made an invasion of species Major environmental damage in the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador In the academic awards, his master’s thesis was excellent University of Rhodes in South Africa; a Best Thesis award from the University of Zamorano in Honduras; and 2 instead of a scientific statement from the box Entomological Society of North America.
The IOBC was founded in 1956 “to promote environmentally sound methods of pest and disease control in plant protection,” according to the site’s website.