Quantifying salinity and season effects on eastern oyster clearance and oxygen consumption rates
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There are few data on Crassostrea virginica physiological rates across the range of salinities and temperatures to which they are regularly exposed, and this limits the applicability of growth and production models using these data. The objectives of this study were to quantify, in winter (17 °C) and summer (27 °C), the clearance and oxygen consumption rates of C. virginica from Louisiana across a range of salinities typical of the region (3, 6, 9, 15 and 25). Salinity and season (temperature and reproduction) affected C. virginica physiology differently; salinity impacted clearance rates with reduced feeding rates at low salinities, while season had a strong effect on respiration rates. Highest clearance rates were found at salinities of 9–25, with reductions ranging from 50 to 80 and 90 to 95% at salinities of 6 and 3, respectively. Oxygen consumption rates in summer were four times higher than in winter. Oxygen consumption rates were within a narrow range and similar among salinities in winter, but varied greatly among individuals and salinities in summer. This likely reflected varying stages of gonad development. Valve movements measured at the five salinities indicated oysters were open 50–60% of the time in the 6–25 salinity range and ~ 30% at a salinity of 3. Reduced opening periods, concomitant with narrower valve gap amplitudes, are in accord with the limited feeding at the lowest salinity (3). These data indicate the need for increased focus on experimental determination of optimal ranges and thresholds to better quantify oyster population responses to environmental changes.
We thank Christina Bastien, Anh Kim Phea, Alec Phea, and Stephanie Bernasconi for laboratory help. We thank Dr. Stephen Hand for generously allowing us to use their coulter counter. We thank Brian Callam and Dr. John Supan for spawning Bay Gardene Broodstock. Comments from associate editor Dr. Judith Grassle, Dr. Matthew Hare and two anonymous reviewers significantly improved the manuscript. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.
Part of this research was funded by Louisiana Sea Grant project # R/OA-16 to J. La Peyre. Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided a valvometry system to L. Comeau funded under the Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP project no. GULF-9-2014-2016).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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