Vulnerability of oyster aquaculture and restoration to ocean acidification and other co-stressors in the Chesapeake Bay

Marjy Freidrichs (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), Emily Rivest (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), David Wrathall (Oregon State University)

Coastal acidification and its associated co-stressors present a serious and credible threat to the success of both oyster aquaculture and restoration in the Chesapeake Bay. Recent research provides a clearer understanding of the physiological sensitivity of different economically and culturally valuable shellfish species to ocean acidification (OA), but we still lack a basic understanding of how vulnerability differs across the range of shellfish-reliant stakeholders, specifically participants in oyster aquaculture, the growers, watermen and coastal restoration managers. This basic knowledge gap motivates this work, which aims to: (1) assess the vulnerability of the oyster aquaculture industry and oyster restoration to OA and other co-stressors, and (2) produce the information required by regional communities to aid in adaptation to these stressors. In achieving these goals, we will better understand which shellfish stakeholders will be able to successfully adapt, which will seek alternative livelihoods, and what specifically causes the difference between these two disparate outcomes.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Understanding the vulnerability of shellfish hatcheries in the Chesapeake Bay to acidification


Acidification in brackish estuarine environments, such as the Chesapeake Bay, is intensified by coastal inputs such as runoff, atmospheric pollution and freshwater sources. The Chesapeake Bay is home to commercial shellfish hatcheries that supply seed that is sold to and planted in hundreds of shellfish farms within the Chesapeake. A great deal of research has been dedicated to understanding the impact of acidification on shellfish, and has shown even greater impacts to shellfish growth and survival in lower salinity and nutrient-rich environments. The shellfish industry relies on consistent hatchery production to sustain and expand operations that could greatly benefit from regional OA forecasts and metrics. This project will synthesize recent CO2 system observations with long-term water quality parameters and combine observations an existing baywide, high-resolution 3D model. The proposed research will develop forecasts of acidification and develop acidification metrics tailored to support decision-making needs of commercial shellfish hatchery and nursery operators.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How sensitive are systems in the Chesapeake Bay to acidification and nutrient pollution?

Jeremy Testa, University of Maryland

The wild oyster industry has suffered repeated collapses in the Chesapeake Bay due to overharvesting, disease, and declining environmental conditions. How future conditions will affect the Eastern oyster remain uncertain, not only because these conditions such as increased freshwater are difficult to predict , but also because the interactions between stressors such as ocean acidification, temperature, nutrient runoff and sea level rise could lead to unexpected chemical, biological, and economic change. The changes in stressors and their impacts do not always proceed in a straight line.The potential responses of various life stages of the Eastern oyster to stressors like acidification and eutrophication has received little attention. This project will study the impact of different stressors to Chesapeake Bay, a large estuarine system, and the Eastern oyster. The study will bring together different models to understand the relationship between biogeochemical cycling of carbon, oxygen, and nutrients, oyster growth and survival, and oyster economic profitability in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The project will provide insights into future conditions and habitats where aquaculture and wild oyster populations may be most vulnerable to the climate and ocean changes.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Can meadows of underwater eelgrass help mitigate the harmful effects of Ocean Acidification on Eastern oysters?

Emily Rivest, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), such as eelgrass, could mitigate the harmful impacts of ocean acidification on Eastern oysters by reducing the acidity of waters where oysters grow. These underwater grasses take up carbon dioxide and release oxygen into coastal waters, reducing the exposure of marine organisms to increases in acidity conditions that slow or stop oyster growth and reproduction. Oysters, in turn, improve water clarity forseagrasses to thrive by filtering particles out of the water and allowing more sunlight to penetrate. This modeling project will identify the threshold of acidification beyond which the economically important Eastern oyster is negatively impacted and will evaluate the potential benefit of seagrasses in protecting oysters and the ecosystem services they provide. The modeling tool will also identify the acidification conditions in which seagrass restoration is most helpful and when the economic benefits of this restoration to Easter oyster production outweigh the costs. At the end of this project, the final model will be freely available as an online tool and will help scientists, managers and oyster growers assess the potential for both seagrass and oyster restoration.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018