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Unprecedented restoration of a native oyster metapopulation
Schulte, D.M.; Burke, R.P.; Lipcius, R.N. (2009). Unprecedented restoration of a native oyster metapopulation. Science (Wash.) 325(5944): 1124-1128
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Overfishing; Oyster reefs; Oysters; ANW, USA, Chesapeake Bay [Marine Regions]; Marine; Brackish water; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Schulte, D.M.
  • Burke, R.P.
  • Lipcius, R.N.

    Native oyster species were once vital ecosystem engineers whose populations have collapsed worldwide due to overfishing and habitat destruction. In 2004, we initiated a vast (35 ha) field experiment by constructing native oyster reefs of three types (high-relief, low-relief, unrestored) in nine protected sanctuaries throughout the Great Wicomico River in Virginia, USA. Upon sampling in 2007 and 2009, we found a thriving metapopulation comprising 185 million oysters of various age classes. Oyster density was fivefold greater on high-relief than low-relief reefs, explaining the failure of past attempts. Juvenile recruitment and reef accretion correlated with oyster density, facilitating reef development and population persistence. This reestablished metapopulation is the largest of any native oyster worldwide, and validates ecological restoration of native oyster species.

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