New Oyster Reef Model to Support Restoration Decision Making

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The Southeast CASC recently posted an article discussing a new publication, co-authored by USGS scientists, that examines the self-organization process of oyster reef systems.  

Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica)

Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), which was the focus of this study.

(Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries, public domain)

Read the original news story posted by the Southeast CASC, here.

Oyster reefs function as foundation habitats that support aquatic food webs and can provide water filtration, shoreline stabilization, and wave buffering services. A new model that predicts reef structure by oyster populations over time is described in a new publication, Modeling structural mechanics of oyster reef self-organization including environmental constraints and community interactions in the journal Ecological Modelling. It was authored by USGS Research Ecologist and Southeast CASC Researcher, Simeon Yurek, and co-authored by a team that included Southeast CASC Research Ecologist, Mitch Eaton. The scientists helped to develop an individual-based model (IBM) of oyster reef mechanics to simulate the interacting effects of metabolism, growth, mortality, predation, and environmental conditions on the engineering and maintenance of the overall reef structure. The new tool supports oyster reef restoration decision making by  identifying trends that can improve the understanding of key mechanistic processes and provide insight for practitioners in the Southeast and beyond into how restorations may be valued over time. This modeling framework could be applied to support restoration decision making in oyster reefs and other self-organizing systems, such as coral or sponge reefs.

This work was supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, and the SE CASC funded project, Climate Change Adaptation for Coastal National Wildlife Refuges.

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