Small-Scale Settlement Patterns of the Oyster Crassostrea Virginica on a Constructed Intertidal Reef
Abstract:The construction of three-dimensional, intertidal reefs resembling those widely present during colonial times in the Chesapeake Bay, but now absent due to years of overharvesting, may provide a more ecologically advantageous environment for oyster settlement and subsequent survival than present subtidal, two-dimensional habitats. We examined settlement processes on a constructed, 210 × 30 m intertidal reef composed of oyster shell. The reef was destructively and non-destructively sampled weekly throughout the summer and fall at tidal heights ranging from 30 cm above to 90 cm below mean low water (MLW) and at two substrate levels (reef surface and 10 cm below the reef surface). Settlement at the surface of the reef community and within the reef interstices down to depths of 10 cm was statistically similar, and settlement was generally greatest subtidally; however, there were localized areas within the reef community where conditions were beneficial for intertidal settlement and where differences in intertidal/subtidal settlement rates were not detectable. These results suggest that microscale variations in tidal elevation and substrate depth strongly affect settlement processes and should not be ignored when constructing reefs.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 1997
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