Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
2013 Annual Report
The Everglades ecosystem of southern Florida constitutes a unique and irreplaceable milieu of natural habitats whose ecological integrity has been seriously damaged by more than a century of anthropogenic activities including agriculture, development, and accompanying hydrologic alterations. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) seeks to restore, preserve, and protect this World Heritage ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region. This project is a part of the CERP efforts and represents a partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the South Florida Water Management District, and the USDA, ARS. One important factor contributing to the degradation of the Everglades ecosystem is the presence of invasive exotic plants that compete with and, in many cases, displace native plant species. The mission of the USDA, ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory (IPRL) is to develop biological control agents that halt the spread of invasive plants within the Everglades, interfere with their reproductive success, and reduce their competitive advantages over native species. As a first step to enhancing the IPRL’s ability to develop biological control agents for release in the Everglades, the USACE will construct an annex adjacent to the existing IPRL facility. Construction of the annex is ongoing, after being delayed for several months due to weather and contractor staffing issues. It is anticipated that IPRL staff will be able to occupy the building by the first quarter of FY14. IPRL staff are working with SFWMD and USACE staff to complete an operations manual describing the procedures to be used in the annex and in the field to assure maximum biological control agent presence and impacts throughout the Everglades.