New truffle species discovery in Florida, USA


This 2014 video from the USA is called Truffles in Florida.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

Two new truffle species discovered in Florida pecan orchards

August 23, 2018

Two new species of truffles were recently discovered on the roots of pecan trees in Florida orchards. The good news is that you can eat them — the bad news is that you wouldn’t want to.

While Tuber brennemanii and Tuber floridanum are edible “true” truffles, in the same genus as the fragrant underground mushrooms prized by chefs, their unappealing odor and small size — about 1 inch wide — will likely discourage people from eating them, said Matthew Smith, an associate professor in the University of Florida department of plant pathology and an affiliate associate curator in the Florida Museum of Natural History Herbarium.

“At least one of the species was pretty stinky and not in a good way, so you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat it”, Smith said. “These guys are small, and they don’t have these really great odors, but the animals love them.”

Smith and his team were studying pecan truffles when they found the new species.

“One of the things we wanted to do is identify the communities we find in these pecan orchards because those are the things that are going to be there naturally and those are the ones that are going to be in direct competition with the species we’re interested in trying to grow”, he said.

Arthur Grupe, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in UF’s department of plant pathology, said the team is researching another, more common pecan truffle, Tuber lyonii, potentially an important economic crop in Florida.

Valued for their pleasant aroma and taste, pecan truffles sell for $160 to $300 per pound. Pecan orchards with a high density of pecan truffles might increase farmers’ per acre profit by up to 20 percent, Grupe said.

Even though the two new truffle species might lack the appetizing qualities of more commonly known truffle species, Smith said their discovery is important and points to the significance of conservation, especially in forest habitats. “Just because you don’t see diversity easily doesn’t mean that it’s not there,” Smith said. “I guess to me it speaks to the fact that there’s really a lot we don’t know about the natural world, and it’s worth preserving so we can try to understand it.”

Smith said the newly described truffle species had likely gone undetected because animals — such as squirrels, wild pigs and other small mammals — were eating them or because they occur earlier in the year than pecan truffles.

The researchers plan to study the new species to learn more about their relationship to pecan truffles and how they compete with other truffle species for resources.

“So far, we have found these truffles mostly in Florida and Georgia”, Grupe said. “Interestingly, a collaborator in Brazil found one of these species in a pecan orchard. We suspect that it hitched a ride on pecan seedlings shipped from the U.S. I think it is a great example of hidden biodiversity.”

Smith said people tend to be more afraid of mushrooms than curious and don’t take the time to learn about them — even though new species are right under our feet.

“Fungi are understudied in general, and things that fruit below ground that are hard to see are even more understudied”, Smith said. “It’s interesting to know these things are out there. You’re walking on them all the time and they still don’t have a name — no one has formally recognized them before. I think that’s kind of cool.”

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Florida, USA cownose ray migration, new study


This November 2015 video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Thousands of cownose rays caught on drone video near Marco Island

Thousands of cownose rays flocked to Marco Island over the weekend, causing quite a spectacle in the waters surrounding the Pelican Pier, not far from the Jolley Bridge.

From the Smithsonian in the USA:

For the first time, biologists track cownose rays to Florida and back

Summer and winter habitats pinned down in longest cownose ray migration study on Atlantic

August 23, 2018

Every summer, cownose rays stream into Chesapeake Bay to mate and give birth to their pups. When autumn comes, they disappear — presumably to migrate south, but no one knew for certain where they spent the winter. Now, after a three-year tagging study published Aug. 23 and led by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), scientists have solved the mystery. Cownose rays all along the Atlantic winter near Cape Canaveral, Florida, and it is likely they return to the same spots each summer.

Cownose rays are large stingrays native to the Chesapeake, with dark brown or olive-gray backs and white bellies. They reproduce slowly. Most mothers give birth to only one pup a year, and they do not mature until age 7 or 8, making them vulnerable to intense fishing or sudden population declines. And yet cownose rays have been dogged by controversy. In the early 2000s, they were saddled with partial blame for oyster declines because their diet includes shellfish. (Later studies cleared their names. Oysters had been declining years before cownose rays became more abundant.) Later, in 2015, bowfishing tournaments for cownose rays began raising alarm among some Marylanders. In response, the Maryland government voted to become the first state to create a fishery-management plan to conserve the cownose ray.

“Because of the slow birth rate, we know that if we don’t manage them, and instead harvest them in a way that heavily impacts the population and causes a population decline, it’ll take a long time for them to recover”, said Matt Ogburn, SERC marine biologist and lead author of the study. “If we lose something important, we could lose it for decades.”

The new study, published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, marks the first time scientists have tracked cownose ray migrations along the Atlantic coast for a full year or more. Knowing where they go every year will help fill in some longstanding knowledge gaps about the rays, as Maryland officials decide how to manage them. It is part of the Smithsonian’s new Movement of Life Initiative. Scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and Savannah State University also joined the effort.

To tag the rays, scientists spent three summer and fall field seasons teaming up with commercial fishers. These fishers were not trying to catch cownose rays, but the animals often appear as accidental bycatch in their pound nets or haul seines. Many of the fishers had worked with the scientists before, partnering with VIMS co-author Robert Fisher or on SERC’s crab-tagging studies.

“Collaborative efforts with commercial fishers are built on trust, straight talk and inclusion to investigate common problems and opportunities”, said Fisher, who has studied cownose rays for nearly three decades.

After transferring the rays to a holding tank, the researchers gave them general and local anesthesia and inserted a small acoustic tag inside them. Once the rays had recovered from surgery, the scientists released them back into the water. As the rays continued their journeys, the tags emitted a series of “pings” unique to each ray. An array of hundreds of receivers lines the Chesapeake and the Atlantic coast, waiting to pick up their signal. These receivers were placed by dozens of scientists from institutions along the East Coast, all sharing data on different species. If a ray passed within half a kilometer of a receiver, the receiver would record data about the ray’s location. Then the data were shared through the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry Network and Florida Atlantic Coast Telemetry Network.

The teams tagged 42 rays total. Most were tagged in Virginia, with five in Maryland and two in Georgia. Of those rays, 28 had their signals detected multiple times over a period longer than 90 days, enough time for scientists to get a sense of their migration behavior.

Regardless of where scientists tagged the rays, every ray they detected in winter went to the same spot: a region just off the coast of Cape Canaveral. The greater challenge was figuring out if cownose rays go back to the same places each summer. While most rays returned to the same regions where scientists tagged them the previous year — some even to the same rivers — many rays were tagged in the fall, when they might have already left their summer homes. Only five rays sent out location signals for both summer 2015 and summer 2016. Four of those rays (three from Virginia and one from Georgia) returned to their original regions. The fifth spent both summers in the Chesapeake, but the first summer in Virginia and the second in Maryland.

This pattern could make conservation even more critical. If cownose rays are returning to the same places each summer, that means the Chesapeake likely has its own distinct population. Intense fishing of rays in the Chesapeake, especially during summer, could wipe out a large slice of the species’ genetic diversity.

“If they’re really tied to one specific place, then you’ll be removing a whole piece, a whole unique segment, from the population”, Ogburn said.

While scientists have unraveled one mystery about cownose ray migrations, there are still many unknowns surrounding the animals. Not least, the authors emphasized, is their role in the Chesapeake Bay as a whole. By turning over the sediment, a bit like tilling a garden, they could play a vital role for organisms like shellfish and crabs that live on the bay floor. As Maryland develops the first official management plan for cownose rays, studies like this will offer more guidance on how to manage one of the most enigmatic creatures in the Chesapeake.

Murder for a parking spot, legal in Florida, USA?


This video from the USA says about itself:

‘Stand your ground’ shooter charged with manslaughter

14 August 2018

Michael Drejka, 48, was arrested in the fatal July shooting of Markeis McGlockton, an incident that was caught on video.

By Andrew Gillum in the USA today:

My name is Andrew Gillum, and I’m the Mayor of Tallahassee, and a candidate for governor in Florida.

And the so-called “stand your ground” laws in my state have let vigilantes become the judge, jury and executioner.

After an argument over a parking space, Markeis McGlockton was shot and killed by a white man. His family had to wait nearly a month before his killer was charged — all because of the “stand your ground” law.

Let’s be clear: stand your ground has no place in a civilized society.

This is a license to kill, plain and simple — will you add your name to our petition calling for the repeal of “stand your ground” laws in America?

“Stand your ground” laws allow anyone who feels afraid to murder under the label of “self-defense”. But we know how that works in practice — studies show that it is disproportionately used against people of color.

But we have a chance to make a difference — I just joined community leaders, faith leaders, and some of Markeis McGlockton’s family members at a sit-in in the governor’s office to protest these unjust and racist laws and fight back against one of Trump’s loyalists, Governor Rick Scott. And our protest WORKED — his killer has now been charged with manslaughter. We can change things if we speak up.

Our sit-in worked, and we have the momentum — will you stand with our protest and sign our petition to repeal stand your ground laws today?

Thank you for taking a stand with me.

Andrew Gillum
Mayor of Tallahassee

GILLUM SHOCK WIN SETS UP FLORIDA SHOWDOWN Andrew Gillum has become the first African-American nominee for Florida governor, pulling off an upset win over favorite Gwen Graham and two big-spending businessmen in a crowded Democratic primary field. The Bernie Sanders-backed progressive will face off against Trump-backed Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis. [HuffPost]

DeSantis under fire for saying Florida shouldn’t ‘monkey this up’ by electing Gillum, who is black: here.

FLORIDA MIDTERM FACE OFF IS PERFECT FOR BOTH CAMPS In Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum, Florida Republicans and Democrats both got the opponents they wanted. And it’s already turned nasty, with Trump-backed DeSantis telling the state not to “monkey this up” by electing Andrew Gillum, who would be the state’s first African-American governor if elected. [HuffPost]

Kill Parkland massacre survivor, United States policeman says


In the USA, there are not just right-wingers who want to kill people for being gay. There are also right-wingers who want to kill people for surviving a school massacre and protesting against gun violence.

This video from the USA about Florida state says about it:

Cop Wants Parkland Survivor Killed

29 May 2018

A cop is facing a considerable amount of backlash after advocating that someone should run over a Parkland shooting survivor.

“Brian Valenti, the Coconut Creek K-9 officer who posted a snide comment on Facebook that triggered public outrage, is being suspended for five days and will be required to undergo sensitivity training, the department said Tuesday. Valenti told Police Chief Butch Arenal he regretted posting a comment saying he hoped Parkland activist David Hogg would get hit by a car during Friday’s protest at Publix.

The 23-year veteran told his supervisors it was meant as a joke, but he now realizes it was not funny. He told the chief he plans to apologize in person to Hogg and other organizers of the event. Hogg said Tuesday, “Cops are meant to protect and serve communities, not spread hate and violence among them.”

Policeman Valenti did not invent advocating the killing of demonstrators by running them over with cars.

It was practiced by a neonazi who murdered anti-racist demonstrator Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. And it was practiced by right-winger Daniel Wenzek in Bea, California. The Rupert Murdoch media empire advocated it; definitely not as a ‘joke’.

Both the murder of Heather Heyer and the attempted murder by Daniel Wenzek were inspired by ‘mainstream’ right-wing campaigns by the Rupert Murdoch empire and others encouraging drivers to violently attack Black Lives Matter and other activists with pro-crime slogans like ‘Black Lives Splatter’.

While there were no fatalities reported after the Brea incident, the social media postings of Wenzek along with his overall personal history suggests a psychologically troubled individual with strong sympathies for the “alt-right” movement that inspired the Charlottesville killer.

He is reportedly a registered sex offender, having served a three-year prison sentence for an act he committed against a child under 14 years of age in 2006. After his release from prison in 2009, Wenzek became a born-again Christian and would regularly post Bible verses on his Facebook page.

Black Lives Splatter racist decal from nazi site Daily Stormer

This variation on the United States racist “All Lives Splatter” decal which encourages drivers to wound or kill protesters against police brutality is specifically a call to kill or injure supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is from the nazi Internet site Daily Stormer, one of the organisers of the Charlottesville violent fascist rally. The murderer of Heather Heyer got his inspiration from this.

Militarized university in Florida, USA


This video from the USA is called ‘How Can you Tell If You’re Becoming Militarized? Doing a Feminist Audit’ By Professor Cynthia Enloe.

By Alex Johnson in the USA:

University of South Florida one of the most militarized in United States

25 May 2018

The University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida is one of the most militarized colleges in the nation, with historical ties to the military/intelligence apparatus and an expanded array of military offered programs. USF joins a list of universities that have, over the last two decades, been developed into centers for training and recruiting students and youth for the highest occupations in the American armed forces.

University administrators have promoted this transformation by issuing certain perks, including out-of-state tuition waivers, to prospective students who are military veterans, dependents, or active duty personnel. According to the Military Times EDGE magazine, USF has become the most “veteran friendly” four-year college in the nation. The university has received this title for three consecutive years and has also seen its enrollment of military veterans and dependents increase from 1,774 veterans in fall 2016 to 1,838 in 2017, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

USF is also the only school in the state that participates in the federal Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which is a provision of the post-9/11 GI bill. The program authorizes approved colleges and the Department of Veteran Affairs to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceeds the threshold of the GI bill. Such attractive financial incentives shore up appeal of joining military service, at the expense of spending for public education as a whole.

Indeed, the incentives that schools such as USF offer are part of a national goal of seeking young people who view joining the military as a solution to their inability to pay an expensive college tuition and the lack of decent job opportunities. In fact, after the financial crisis in 2008, when jobs and living standards began to dwindle across the country, the military saw a significant upsurge in its enlistment.

Recruiters and military promoters consciously prey on students as young as middle school age for recruitment or training in different military programs.

At USF, the premier program for grooming students for positions in different branches of the military is the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a program designed to prepare young adults for future military officer positions. The program offered at USF has a distinguishable character that separates it from most college campuses.

The history of the Army ROTC at the school dates back to 1975 when USF and the University of Tampa agreed to cross-enroll students from UT’s ROTC senior program. By November of 1979, a senior ROTC Battalion was established at USF. This Battalion eventually grew to become the “Suncoast Battalion” with cross-enrollment between USF, Eckerd College, Hillsborough Community College, Saint Leo University, Saint Petersburg College and Pasco-Hernando State College. The university’s military influence grew larger in 2007, when the US Army Cadet Command (USACC) made USF a “super host” for senior ROTC programs, becoming just one of two in the state.

The university is one of 50 schools in the country that hosts ROTC programs from all the nation’s armed services (Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force). In coordination with the ROTC, the university also has a Joint Military Leadership Center (JMLC) which is geared towards providing cadets and officer candidates “unique core competencies and skills in leadership development, global understanding, and national security/military/defense strategies.” Meaning that students are introduced to the strategies and tactics that prospective officers are expected to use for invading, attacking and occupying foreign countries.

One significant feature of the program is that it sponsors periodic visits to the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at the Macdill Air Force Base, located in Tampa. This activity serves to provide students “an overview of a major unified combatant command, its mission and function.”

In addition to the visits to Macdill, JMLC also sponsors one ROTC student each year to participate in the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference (NAFAC), the leading undergraduate foreign affairs conference in the nation with a special interest in promoting collaboration between youth from different schools.

According to the USF’s webpage on the JMLCs program and activities, one of the goals of the NAFAC is to create a setting where delegates have “a unique opportunity to meet other students from universities/colleges” and “discuss global issues that directly affect U.S. interests and national security.”

Academia and higher education as a whole have become an imperative breeding ground for cultivating the next generation of military generals, officers and soldiers used as cannon fodder for the ruling class. The United States has been involved for more than a quarter century in a stream of uninterrupted and violent wars in the Middle East, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Libya, Syria, and Yemen. These illegal wars of aggression have devastated entire societies, killed millions of people and produced the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. The financial and corporate oligarchy in the US, including their representatives in the Democratic and Republican parties, have deemed it necessary that young people be acclimated into a life of unending wars.

ROTC, which is found in thousands of high schools and colleges across the country, is used to instill jingoistic and chauvinistic attitudes in students as early as possible. Indoctrination into a militarist and police-state mindset, from sports pregame celebrations to active-shooter school drills, is the end goal.

Notably, the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, less than four hours southeast of USF, was carried out by a member of the high school’s Junior ROTC program. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, became accustomed to shooting rifles like the type used to gun down his victims through the military training program.

The militarist Donald Trump was educated at a military academy. However, when the Vietnam war raged, Trump preferred sons of poorer families to do the fighting and dying instead of him (like George W Bush and Dick Cheney did). Trump managed not to go Vietnam on iffy ‘medical’ grounds.

Trump just opened the door for the U.S. gun industry to sell more firearms abroad.

Manatees in Florida, USA, video


This 6 April 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

In this fun-filled manatee adventure, Jonathan teams up with 7-year-old Elizabeth from “Elizabeth Swims” on a trip to meet Florida manatees. At Three Sisters Spring in Crystal River, Jonathan and Elizabeth come face to face with these huge gentle sea cows as they relax near warm water springs during cold weather.

JONATHAN BIRD‘S BLUE WORLD is an Emmy Award-winning underwater science/adventure series featuring underwater cinematographer/naturalist Jonathan Bird.

Baby screech owl listens to singing mockingbird


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

11 May 2018

The only Screech Owlet is totally mesmerized by a Northern Mockingbird singing away on the perch in front of the owl nest box. Owls’ eyes are a window into their soul and you can feel the sense of wonder that she is experiencing as she watches the big world she is about to join outside the nest box.