A comparison of the habitat value of sub-tidal and floating oyster (Crassostrea virginica) aquaculture gear with a created reef in Delaware’s Inland Bays, USA

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Journal Article

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Aquaculture International

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Date Added



The culture of the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in containment gear has become a viable component of restoration programs in many states on the East Coast of the United States, and it has been suggested that these operations may provide many of the same ecological services as natural or restored reefs. Our two-part study comparing the diversity and abundance in macro-epifaunal communities associated with a sub-tidal-created oyster reef and ‘modified rack and bag’ cage system (Part I) and floating oyster cages for restoration (Part II) occurred over the summer and fall of 2006 and 2007, respectively. In Part I, a greater total abundance and species richness (P < 0.05) was found to be associated with the cages, but greater evenness (P < 0.05) was found on the reef. No significant difference (P > 0.05) was found in species diversity according to Simpson’s index by habitat type, but it was significant (P < 0.05) by month. These samples were dominated by naked goby (Gobisoma bosc) and Atlantic mud crab (Panopeus herbstii). Spaghetti worm (Ampharetidae, P < 0.01), sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus, P < 0.01), blue crab (Callinectes sapidus, P < 0.01), grey snapper (Lutjanus griseus, P < 0.05), gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis, P < 0.01), and Atlantic oyster drill (Urosalpinx cinera, P < 0.05) were unique to the cages, while the skilletfish (Gobiesox strumosus) was unique to the reef. Part II revealed that the floating cages supported 13 species of fish and invertebrates, although no significant differences in species richness, evenness, or diversity were found by month or by bay area (P > 0.05). These results suggest that created reefs in conjunction with ‘rack and bag’ cage systems, as well as floating cage systems, support ecologically and economically important macro-epifauna, even at very small scales.






Environmental Sciences

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