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UF/IFAS creates new Invasion Science Research Institute

013845 female Aedes albopictus.jpg
Tyler Jones/UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones
UF/IFAS Communications
A bloodfed female Aedes albopictus, the most common day-biting mosquito in much of Florida. Insect pests. 2009 Annual Research Report photo by Le Munstermann of Yale University.

Florida is ground zero for invasive species in the United States, and more arrive every year. Now, the University of Florida’s Institute for Food & Agricultural Sciences is creating the Invasion Science Research Institute to focus on the issue — not only here in Florida, but around the world.

In response to this ever-growing local and global problem, UF/IFAS is bringing together more than 120 university scientists from 20 different departments who are dedicated to the detection, diversion, tracking, and control of nonnative and invasive wildlife and plant species.

Dr. Matthew Thomas is an internationally-known entomologist and ecologist, and he’s the first director of the new Invasion Science Research Institute. He said they’re going to create something transformative.

“So that we really put UF on the map as certainly the US center for excellence for invasion science, and ultimately one of the world’s centers for excellence for invasion science. So that is a big, lofty ambition but that’s where I’d like to take it.”

According to a study published earlier this year in the journal Science of the Total Environment, here in the United States invasive species cost the U.S. economy more than $21 billion per year, with the agriculture industry most affected.

Dr. Thomas says increased mobility and global trade are primarily driving the spread of invasive animals and plants.

You can hear a conversation with Dr. Thomas about his work and plans for the new institute on Gulf Coast Life.

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