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F Allen Dray


My career as a scientist began in 1979 when I received a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Tampa. During two years as an environmental consultant, I developed skills in diatom and annelid taxonomy, quantified the benthic polychaete components in Gray whale diets, and described the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of rivers, lakes, bays, and estuaries in Florida and New Jersey. I continued to focus on aquatic ecology at the University of Vermont, where I obtained an M.S. in Zoology in 1986. My research demonstrated that naididoligochaetes are common components of drifting invertebrate fauna in some streams, and that this may be a dispersal mechanism during periods of rapid population expansion through asexual budding. As a Senior Biologist at the University of Florida, I investigated the effects of genetic differences in its host plant on the population dynamics of the aquatic shore fly Hydrelliapakistanae, a biological control agent of the aquatic weed Hydrillaverticillata; I also studied the reproductive ecology of the floating weed Pistiastratiotes, surveyed the herbivore fauna on this weed in Florida, released the South American weevil Neohydronomusaffinis and the Asian moth Spodopterapectinicornis as biological controls against this weed, and evaluated the impacts of these insects on the population dynamics of Pistia.  I completed the Ph.D. in Biology from FloridaInternationalUniversity in 2003. My research investigated the ecological genetics of the Everglades invader Melaleuca quinquenervia, and related variation among populations of this wetlands tree to differences in the population dynamics of the Australian weevil Oxyopsvitiosa - a biological agent introduced into Florida to control this weed.  As an Ecologist with ARS, I have collaborated on the release and establishment of two biological controls (O. vitiosa and Boreioglycaspismelaleucae) of Melaleuca, investigated the efficacy of two Neochetina species (South American weevils) used as biological controls of the floating weed Eichhorniacrassipes, and used quantitative genetics methods to study the evolution of herbivore resistance in Melaleuca.