Oyster Recruitment and Growth in Areas of High and Low Groundwater Discharge in Oyster Creek, Georgia
Abstract or Description
Reef building oyster populations found in coastal Georgia have been declining as a result of disease, parasites, and overharvest, among other factors. These oysters both provide important services to ecosystems and support to the shoreline and have a large commercial value. While many restoration efforts have been attempted, success or failure is dependent upon a suite of biological and physical factors. One factor that has not received much attention is the presence of high groundwater discharge on oyster populations. For this study, we worked to determine the relationship between oysters and the groundwater gradient within Oyster Creek, Georgia; we also surveyed recruitment of new individuals and recruitment growth. Groundwater surveys were conducted along each bank of the creek using radon sampling. Oysters and discrete water samples were collected at 23 survey sites within the creek. Additionally, oyster recruitment was monitored at 13 of the sites on each of the banks and oyster growth was studied at the 5 sites closest to the area of greatest groundwater discharge. The condition index of each oyster was compared to the nutrient availability, turbidity, and pH levels in the water. We will present our preliminary findings.