Headline for Featured Item #1 University Study Will Help Determine Best Placement for Future Oyster Reefs - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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University Study Will Help Determine Best Placement for Future Oyster Reefs

July 05, 2013

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Oyster populations have greatly declined within the last century due to over-harvesting, dredging, increased sedimentation, invasive species, pollution and disease.  And while an oyster isn’t very glamorous to look at, what it does for cleaning our waterways makes these creatures, and the restoration of their habitat, essential.  But in order for them to flourish, you have to place the new reefs in the right spot.   That is the focus of a study being done at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

As part of her doctoral studies in marine biology, Jessica Lunt is focused on monitoring and comparing the size and organism differences found amongst critters that populate oyster reefs in the Coastal Bend. Lunt’s findings will help to determine better ways to increase biodiversity which has seen recent declines, when rebuilding reefs.  At the beginning of June Lunt set up a stretch of ten pallets of recycled oysters along the inner and outer parameters of a chosen oyster reef at Goose State Park in Port Aransas.

Lunt along with Dr. Lee Smee, Associate Professor in the Department of Science and Engineering, led a biodiversity excursion consisting of three undergraduate students and, two graduate students on Friday, June 28 to collect the pallets. They found many organisms had inhabited the oyster pallets including porcelain crabs, toad fish, and shrimp.  

“We believe the wave force is making the organisms stay small,” said Lunt. “This experiment will help us determine more of how and where to rebuild reefs.”

After extracting each pallet, the team swept the ocean floor with a large net, and discovered that more organisms made their home along the inner parameter of the reef where there are fewer waves. Determining the organism’s reactions to wave strengths will help the team better understand the effect of life abundance in the waters.

“I have been doing oyster research since 2008, and you always learn something which is what I love about being out in the field,” said James Sanchez, marine biology graduate student. “All of the research that we conduct will help us address problems that we may come across in the future.”

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