Marine Biology

, 164:54 | Cite as

How does a restored oyster reef develop? An assessment based on stable isotopes and community metrics

  • Ryan J. Rezek
  • Benoit Lebreton
  • E. Brendan Roark
  • Terence A. Palmer
  • Jennifer Beseres Pollack
Original paper

Abstract

Oyster reefs host complex food webs, as their three-dimensional biogenic structure provides habitat for a diverse range of invertebrates and fish. Oyster reefs have suffered severe degradation due to anthropogenic activities. Restoration projects aim to mitigate this habitat loss. We compared the development of a restored subtidal oyster reef to that of a natural reef for 29 months by assessing (1) community metrics (e.g., biomass, diversity), (2) the stable isotope composition of food sources and consumers, and (3) biomass-weighted isotopic diversity indices. A clear shift in restored reef community composition occurred 12–15 months after restoration, moving from a community dominated by opportunistic species to a more diverse and evenly distributed community, similar to that of the natural reef. Consumer stable isotope values indicated that the restored reef community was supported by similar food resources and had similar food chain length as the natural reef community by 5-month post-restoration. However, biomass-weighted isotopic diversity indices indicated that the magnitude of the main trophic pathways and characteristics of food web complexity in the restored reef did not recover to natural reef levels until 12–15 months after construction. The functional recovery of the restored reef community was driven by the homogenization of biomass distribution among trophic compartments as oysters and top predators increasingly colonized the reef. Results indicate that oyster reef restoration can support food web functions like those provided by natural reefs. We also demonstrate the importance of combining food web and community structure information in the study of ecological functioning.

Supplementary material

227_2017_3084_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 33 KB)
227_2017_3084_MOESM2_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 14 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan J. Rezek
    • 1
  • Benoit Lebreton
    • 2
  • E. Brendan Roark
    • 3
  • Terence A. Palmer
    • 1
  • Jennifer Beseres Pollack
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesTexas A&M University-Corpus ChristiCorpus ChristiUSA
  2. 2.UMR 7266 Littoral Environnement et Sociétés (CNRS-Université de La Rochelle)Institut du Littoral et de l’EnvironnementLa RochelleFrance
  3. 3.Department of GeographyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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