Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Oyster reef restoration: effect of alternative substrates on oyster recruitment and nekton habitat use

  • Lindsey Marie George
  • Kevin De Santiago
  • Terence A. Palmer
  • Jennifer Beseres Pollack
Article

Abstract

Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in Gulf of Mexico estuaries create complex reefs and provide important habitat for fish and crustaceans. Oyster reefs have suffered historic losses due to overharvest, disease, and degraded water quality, and recent efforts have focused on restoring reefs to benefit nekton populations. Oyster shell is the preferred substrate for oyster reef restoration, but as a consequence of its limited supply, a variety of alternative substrates are being used. We used field experiments to quantify the effects of substrate type (concrete, porcelain, limestone, river rock, and oyster shell) on oyster recruitment, growth, and nekton habitat use in St. Charles Bay, TX. After 4 months, oyster spat recruitment density, nekton density and community structure were similar across substrate types—and analogous to those on natural reefs—but differed from samples collected on bare sediment. To determine refuge value of the alternative substrates, we tested mud crab (Panopeidae) prey mortality with and pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides) or blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) predators. Prey mortality was similar across substrate types for both predators, and was significantly lower than no substrate and bare sand controls. Alternative substrates can provide important structural materials to support the development of oyster populations and nekton assemblages, and may be used to promote sustainable management of oyster reef resources via restoration.

Keywords

Complexity Habitat Refuge Restoration Structure 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsey Marie George
    • 1
  • Kevin De Santiago
    • 1
  • Terence A. Palmer
    • 1
  • Jennifer Beseres Pollack
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesTexas A&M University-Corpus ChristiCorpus ChristiUSA

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