Term of Award

Fall 1997

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Sophie B. George

Committee Member 1

Randal L. Walker

Committee Member 2

Stephen P. Vives

Abstract

The Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin), has a long history of importance in the coastal communities of the eastern United States. Native Americans utilized oysters as a food source, and there is evidence that they transferred oyster stocks between locations prior to European settlement (Carlton and Mann 1996). Today, oysters are still an important commercial resource (Menzel 1991). Because of this, the oyster industry in such areas as the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico has been studied extensively.

Oysters have been the subject of scientific research for several hundred years. In 1690, Brach studied the eggs and larvae of the European fiat oyster, Ostrea edulis (Linne), utilizing a microscope (Kennedy 1996). Since that time, much information on the life history of a variety of oyster species has been gathered to provide data for the development of management plans, aquacultural applications and harvesting techniques. However, much of this information is geographically and species specific.

Native populations of the eastern oyster, C. virginica, are found in estuaries of the western Atlantic Ocean from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and south to Brazil and Argentina, although these southern limits are often disputed (Andrews 1991; Carriker and Gaffney 1996; Newball and Carriker 1983). Within this range, each region utilizes aquacultural techniques developed specifically for the characteristics of that location. Techniques have yet to be established for the culture of oysters in the southeastern United States, particularly South Carolina and Georgia.

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