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Dr. Phil Stouffer Spends a Year in Tanzania

Dr. Phil Stouffer in Tanzania

Phil Stouffer, a professor of the LSU College of Agriculture, at Barafu Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro. Stouffer spent a year in Tanzania as a Fulbright Scholar teaching at the College of African Wildlife Management and studying birds in the region. (Photo provided by Phil Stouffer)

Phil Stouffer lived out his childhood dream on the southern slope of Mount Kilimanjaro. Stouffer, a professor in the LSU College of Agriculture’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, spent a year in Tanzania as a Fulbright Scholar.

Students from the College of African Wildlife Management in Mweka, Tanzania accompanied professor Phil Stouffer (right) on bird netting and observation outings around the college. Stouffer taught several classes at the college as part of his Fulbright Scholar experience.Photo provided by Phil Stouffer

Stouffer taught classes at the College of African Wildlife Management near the town of Moshi and conducted research on the annual cycle of birds in the area during the 2014-2015 academic year.

“I had worked in the New World tropics in Brazil since 1991, but I had never been to the Old World tropics,” Stouffer said.

In his Fulbright application, Stouffer said, he emphasized his work in the Amazon Basin and his interest in working in Tanzania because the two are on the same latitude.

“I thought it would be interesting to see how these two tropics were alike,” he said. “What I found is they are really different.”

Stouffer described the area where he resided as partly forested along with coffee plantations and small farms. Footpaths crisscrossed villages. It was along those trails that Stouffer and his students spent time observing the many species of birds.

The professor taught ornithology, genetics and conservation biology classes at the college, but he said getting out with the students and observing the wildlife were most rewarding.

Learn more about Dr. Stoufer's year as a Fulbright Scholar in Tanzania on the LSU College of Agriculture website. Photos of his Tanzania experience and some of his current Louisiana wilidlife classes are available on his Flickr feed.

Use of Microbes in Oil Spill Cleanup

The Fall issue of Louisiana Agriculture Magazine is out; the theme of the issue is "Living with Both Bad and Beneficial Microbes. " One of the featured articles, by Dr. Andy Nyman, is Use of Microbes in Oil Spill Cleanup.

Article of the Year Honors
Go To Dr. Keim

Congratulations are in order for Dr. Richard Keim on his Louisiana Agriculture Magazine Article of the Year Award! The article, Water Management at Catahoula Lake (linked below), appeared in the Summer 2015 volume of Lousiana Agriculture Magazine.

LSU AgCenter-Louisiana Agriculture-Summer2015
RNR Featured Articles(click title for article)

Louisiana Agriculture is the quarterly magazine published by the LSU AgCenter to keep our constituents informed about our research and extension efforts. This issue includes articles on a variety of topics that affect Louisiana’s agriculture industry and the environment. The magazine is also available in e-book form for your iPad, Kindle or other electronic device. If you would like a printed copy or if you have any questions or if you want to unsubscribe from this list, please contact the editor, Linda Benedict. The LSU AgCenter is here to serve you.

The Next Big One
10 Years After Katrina


LSU AgCenter ecologist Andy Nyman (left) examines a wetlands area in Louisiana's Sawdust Bend Bayou, about 95 miles downriver from New Orleans. A Mississippi River diversion -- a gap in the river's banks -- built in the 1980s in nearby Pass a Loutre allowed sediment-rich fresh water to flow in, helping wetlands grow in an area that was once a shallow lake. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post).

The 1.8-mile-long, 25-to-26 foot-high Lake Borgne Surge Barrier (right), which is supposed to protect New Orleans against the one-in-100-year hurricane. Linda Davidson (The Washington Post)

"New Orleans has built the infrastructure to protect itself from hurricanes, but can it win the battle against rising seas?" RNR's own Dr Andy Nyman was featured and quoted in both a Washington Post print article on Saturday (22 Aug 2015) and an online story complete with videos and graphics. The story highlighed the successes and possible future problems with the geographic location of New Orleans, and the precarious health of the Mississippi Delta before, during, and since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.

There is a lot on information here. Have a look: The Next Big One: 10 Years after Katrina

AgCenter Receives Spray Foam Insulation Grant

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter has received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Innovative Uses of Wood program. The grant will fund a project on bio-based spray foam insulation from wood residues, and will be led by LSU AgCenter forest products researchers Todd Shupe and Niels de Hoop from the AgCenter School of Renewable Natural Resources.

“The main goal of the project is to determine the potential of low-value wood fiber as a raw material for the development of a green spray foam insulation,” Shupe said. “Consumers are demanding green products for their houses, but insulation is one product that is currently not very green.”

This project will allow the team to determine the potential of small-diameter timber and low-value fiber as a feedstock for spray foam insulation. This material currently has little to no value but poses a significant risk for wildfires, Shupe said. In addition to substantial energy cost savings, wood-based spray foam has much better biodegradability compared to petroleum-based foam insulation, which will benefit the environment when this material is landfilled. “Current spray foams contain zero to 30 percent biomass, typically an agricultural byproduct – such as bagasse from sugarcane,” Shupe said.

There is an economic and environmental opportunity to increase the percentage of biomass to 50 percent and reduce the amount of isocyanate in the feedstock to 50 percent, Shupe said. “The project is being conducted as a collaborative effort with the spray foam industry,” Shupe said. “We would like to increase the percentage of biomass in spray foam, and we want that biomass to be from forest fuel reduction programs.”

For more information on the project, contact Shupe at 225-578-6432 or tshupe@agcenter.lsu.edu.

The full article, by Johnny Morgan, is availabe at AgCenter Headline news.

Taxol: Old Cancer Drug, New Formula

For the past eight years, Professor Zhijun Liu of LSU’s AgCenter has been focusing on a chemotherapy drug called Taxol, used to treat ovarian and breast cancer. It’s a potent drug, and the body struggles to dissolve and absorb it. Liu is looking for ways to fix that.

Dr. Liu was recently interviewed about his work by local Louisiana Public Broadcasting Station, WRKF -89.3FM. An article, and a recording of the interview are available online as part of the Louisiana's Perscription series: here.

Springtime brings problems for fish ponds

BATON ROUGE, La. – Many Louisiana ponds experience partial fish die-offs during the spring due to a combination of disease and low oxygen stress, according to LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist Greg Lutz.

“Overcrowding, over-feeding or over-fertilizing almost always compound these problems,” Lutz said.

Low temperatures during winter force fish into a state of slow motion in which they eat very little, and their immune systems respond very slowly.

“When temperatures begin to rise in the spring, disease-causing organisms, already naturally present in a pond, can get the upper hand on fish that are in a weakened state,” Lutz said.

Stress caused by abrupt temperature fluctuations, such as many parts of the state experienced in the past several months, often aggravates fish health problems by further suppressing immune responses, he said.


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.

RNR Faculty, Post-Docs' Study Gets Cover of BioScience

seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus).  Photo by Dr. Phil Stouffer

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.

Breeding the perfect Oyster?

Dr. John Supan - AgCenter, RNR, and Sea Grant scientist, was recently featured on WWL-TV New Orleans discussing his triploid oyster program.

Professor Supan began researching this concept of cross breeding oysters back in 1993. After roughly nine years of work and experimentation, he and his team had a break through. In the spring of 2002, they successfully produced what they call a "triploid" oyster. “We have not inserted strange genes into these oysters. The chromosomes in these oysters were in the oysters already. It's just part of a breeding process,” Supan said. "

"They retain their winter fat acquired during the winter time, they don't burn it off during the summer to spawn, which causes their meat yield to drop and become watery. The triploids stay fat all summer long" said Supan.

See the video, and read the rest of the fascinating details HERE.

LIFT2 Grants Awarded to Three RNR Faculty

LSU has awarded 15 grants totaling $500,000 to faculty members through its new LIFT2 (Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer) grant program, which provides funding to validate the market potential of the faculty members' inventions. Grants are for up to $50,000. LSU President F. King Alexander says in a prepared statement that "this program will help to see many of these projects advance from basic research to market." Results of the research from the first grants are expected within a year. The grant awardees were selected from among 47 applications.

Congratulations are in order for three of our Faculty members receiving these prestigious awards:

Professors Todd Shupe and Richard Vlosky in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, along with Dr. Jim Richardson in the E. J. Ourso College of Business Administration on the LSU A&M campus received one of these these for their project titled: “Reclaiming Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) from Decommissioned Preservative-treated wood: Technology, Economics, and Markets

Assistant Professor Julie Anderson Lively in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, also received one of these awards. The title of her project is “Packaging and storage of a new blue crab bait

The New GPS: Gobbler Positioning System

An article from the May 2, 2014 issue of Field and Stream features our current wildlife ecologist, Dr. Bret Collier, and our former wildlife ecologist, Dr. Mike Chamberlain. The use of GPS technology to study the habits and movements of turkeys is highlighted. Interesting stuff. The article can be viewed online, here.

LSU AgCenter, Nicholls State Collaborate on Gar Fish

BATON ROUGE, La. – Researchers from the LSU AgCenter and students from Nicholls State University recently collected alligator gar at the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station in Baton Rouge in an effort to improve the fish populations in areas where they are no longer found.

Christopher Green, the lead researcher on the project at the station, is working with biology students at Nicholls to address the spawning behavior of the fish. And for the past four years, Green has been looking at ways to keep the alligator gar a viable species in southern Louisiana and other parts of the Mississippi River.


Research Highlight: Blue Crab Bait Could Improve Crab, Shrimp Industries

Dr. Julie Anderson Crab Bait studiesBATON ROUGE, La. – A new gelatin-like bait using shrimp waste could improve the way blue crabs are caught along the coast of Louisiana and add value to the state’s shrimp processing industry.

Julie Anderson, a crustacean specialist with the LSU AgCenter and RNR Faculty memeber, is working on a crab bait that could replace Atlantic menhaden, the current bait used.

The menhaden, also known as pogy, is shipped from the East Coast, Anderson said, but stocks are declining. The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission put a limit on how much menhaden can be caught. Anderson said this is driving up the price of Atlantic menhaden.

Menhaden also is caught in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is rarely used for bait.

Artificial reefs could stem coastal land loss

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana’s issues with coastal land loss are well-documented. Scientists estimate that since 1930 as much as 25 square miles of land per year have been lost in the Mississippi River delta area. Much of these losses can be traced to land subsidence – land simply sinking and being covered by water – and erosion from wave energy.

Megan Lapeyre, an estuarine ecologist with the LSU AgCenter’s School of Renewable Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey, is studying engineered reefs and examining how these reefs perform in stabilizing land primarily in areas of high wave energy.

“We are studying these reefs in three different areas. One in the Vermilion Bay area, one in Grand Isle and another in the Biloxi marsh area,” she said.

Lapeyre said one goal of the studies is to answer just how effective reefs are for shoreline stabilization. “Ideally, they would assist in creating marsh,” she said. “At this point, it is too early to tell.”

Cooperative Research Unit Corner - Research on Louisiana's Bald Eagles

Wildlife Management Institute’s Outdoor News Bulletin is hilighting Dr. Alan Afton’s Bald Eagle research in it's "Cooperative Research Unit Corner". Research being conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in collaboration with the USGS Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Louisiana State University is examining the change in the eagle population over time and looking at what habitat types the birds are currently using for nesting. The Bulletin and all the details are available on the Wildlife Mangaemnt Institute's website. Read about nteresting research to help preserve our National Symbol.

Workshop Focuses on Wood-Based Bioenergy

HAMMOND, La. – The U.S. forestry industry has migrated from the Pacific Northwest to the South over the past two decades, providing additional opportunities for Southern forest landowners, an LSU AgCenter business development expert told an audience at a workshop on forest-based bioenergy.

Emerging biomass-to-energy markets have been driven by increasing interest in renewable energy sources, said Rich Vlosky, director of the Louisiana Forest Products Development Center in the LSU AgCenter.

Stouffer Lab Brings Good News From the Rainforest

Some good news out of the Amazon rainforest: given enough time, deforested land can rebound enough to host bird species that had previously deserted the area, according to a recent study in The Auk.

Between 1992 and 2011, a team led by Philip Stouffer of Louisiana State University tracked the movements of birds through fragmented rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon. Using soft nylon stretches called mist nets, they snagged nearly 4,000 birds at the margins between old growth forests and tracts of between old growth rainforest and forest recovering after being abandoned by cattle ranchers.

As the so-called secondary forest regenerated, birds crossed the borders more frequently, the team found. These areas of regrowth become more habitable to birds with time, although the results suggest that it can take at least a decade or two for species to return.


Nature faces disasters, disruptions

LNRS logoBATON ROUGE, La. – Man-made modifications in the Mississippi River Valley – levees, cut-offs and dams – have all caused changes in the ecology of the Atchafalaya Basin and similar areas, Wes Cochran, a graduate student in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, told a conference audience recently.

Those and effects of natural and man-made disasters and disruptions were featured as scientists presented results of some of their research in the fourth Louisiana Natural Resources Symposium on Aug. 1-2 on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

The fourth in a series of biannual conferences was presented by the LSU AgCenter School of Renewable Natural Resources.

“The conference is focused on the effects of human and natural changes on forested and wetland ecosystems and wildlife,” said Todd Shupe, of the AgCenter’s Louisiana Forest Products Development Center and one of the organizers of the event.

Alligator Diet is the Focus of Aquaculture Research Station Project

1/28/2013, The Advocate -- Millie Williams, Senior Research Associate with the LSU AgCenter's Aquaculture Research Station, is working on a study that could do for Louisiana’s $60 million alligator farming industry what science has already done for the cattle, pork and poultry industries.

Robert Reigh, director of the research station, says LSU is set to open its new Alligator Research Station just outside Baton Rouge city limits in early March.

Since the early 1990s, alligator farmers have been asking for help in identifying the right food mixture and the right conditions in which they can grow their alligators quickly to marketable size and sell them, Reigh said.

About five years ago, the farmers pooled their money — about $160,000 — to pay for the Alligator Research Station.

Once the building is completed, researchers will have adequate space to take in young alligator hatchlings and nurture them until they reach marketable size of about 4 or 5 feet.


LSU AgCenter Researchers Testing Oil Cleanup Chemical Toxicity

BATON ROUGE, La. – 12/18/12 - LSU AgCenter scientists are working with researchers at Columbia University and Iowa State University on an environmentally friendly substance that could be used to clean up oil spills.

Andy Nyman, an LSU AgCenter wetlands biologist, and Chris Green, an LSU AgCenter toxicologist, are testing the chemical’s toxicity on killifish, a baitfish known more commonly in Louisiana as cocahoe minnows. The $211,000 project is being funded for three years by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation.

The project came in reaction to the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the recognized need for a more effective, yet environmentally friendly dispersant, Nyman said.

Researcher Tracks Changes at University Lakes

LSU Lakes Research16 Nov 2011 - Trying to keep the University Lakes in Baton Rouge clean and healthy is a goal of LSU AgCenter researcher Yi Jun Xu, associate professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources.

For the past three years, Xu has used funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents Equipment Enhancement Fund to study the lake’s health.

“When the project began in 2008, the focus was on two areas – enhanced teaching in water resources and to provide sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment for surface water research,” Xu said.

Xu and his graduate students receive measurements of the dissolved oxygen, pH and water temperature every 15 minutes from equipment in the lake. He said his data can be used by state agencies and others interested in water quality.


The Fall 2011 Louisiana Agriculture issue contains several articles by RNR faculty

The fall 2011 issue of Louisiana Agriculture focuses on our state’s water resources. These resources must be sustained and improved for the future well-being of Louisiana. The LSU AgCenter has made a major commitment to water quality. Our scientists are finding ways to prevent nutrient runoff, which is from a variety of sources, into our streams and waterways and to mitigate the damage from saltwater intrusion following hurricanes. Learn more by reading this issue, and please contact the individual authors if you have questions or need more information. Or you can contact the editor, Linda Benedict. The LSU AgCenter is dedicated to Louisiana’s economic development.

    Selected content, contributed by RNR Faculty and students includes:
  • LSU AgCenter is committed to water quality
    Y. Jun Xu
  • Keep Louisiana’s water resources plentiful and good
    D. Allen Rutherford
  • Nutrient Removal from Atchafalaya during 2011 flood
    April Bryant-Mason and Y. Jun Xu
  • Forestry Best Management Practices and stream water dissolved oxygen
    Y. Jun Xu, Abram DaSilva and April Bryant-Mason
  • Riverine Sediment and the Louisiana coast
    Y. Jun Xu and Timothy Rosen
  • Water Depth enhances quality, provides fish refugia in the Atchafalaya River Basin
    Michael D. Kaller and William E. Kelso
  • Wetland Restoration with agricultural techniques
    Andy Nyman
  • Water Resource Use in Louisiana Aquaculture
    Robert P. Romaire, W. Ray McClain and C. Greg Lutz

Tropical Birds Return to Harvested Rainforest Areas in Brazil

click for slideshow/enlargement22 June 2011 - During a 25-year period, many bird species in Brazilian rainforest fragments that were isolated by deforestation disappeared and then reappeared according to a research paper published June 22 in PLoS One, an online, peer-reviewed journal.

Although species loss following habitat conversion can be inferred, long-term observations are necessary to accurately identify the fate of bird populations, said Philip Stouffer, an ornithologist with the LSU AgCenter and lead author of the paper “Understory bird communities in Amazonian rainforest fragments: Species turnover through 25 years post-isolation in recovering landscapes.”

Stouffer’s research, funded for the past five years by a grant from the National Science Foundation and conducted in cooperation with Projeto Dinâmica de Fragmentos Florestais, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Manaus, Brazil, shows bird species began reappearing following a 10-year hiatus (click to enlarge images).

Stouffer and his colleagues – Erik Johnson, who was Stouffer’s graduate student and is now with the National Audubon Society, Richard O. Bierregaard at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and Thomas E. Lovejoy with the Heinz Center in Washington, D.C. – measured bird populations in 11 forest fragments ranging from about 2.5 acres to 250 acres in the Amazon rainforest near Manaus, Brazil.

revised: 12-Mar-2016 13:31