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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Quantifying Habitat Utilization and Reducing Juvenile Oyster Mortality in Pacific Shellfish Production

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Objective 1: Develop effective population control strategies for burrowing shrimp utilizing data on age structure, larval recruitment, and movement of these pests and establish protocols for identifying sources of juvenile mortality that constrain oyster aquaculture production in West Coast estuaries.

Sub-objective 1.1. Determine whether annual recruitment patterns affect population dynamics of burrowing shrimp populations in West Coast estuaries and apply this to control strategies for oyster culture.

Sub-objective 1.2. Evaluate the utility of imadocloprid and selected biological control measures to control newly recruited juvenile shrimp.

Sub-objective 1.3. Quantify selected causes of mortality of juvenile oysters at a landscape scale in Willapa Bay, Washington. Develop a field protocol for evaluating juvenile oyster mortality and test the protocol in additional estuaries.

Objective 2: Quantify utilization of eelgrass, shellfish, and burrowing shrimp dominated habitat by fish and invertebrates at the estuarine landscape scale and quantify the influence of shellfish aquaculture practices on existing estuarine habitats.

Sub-objective 2.1. Quantify fish and invertebrate use of intertidal habitats including oyster aquaculture in Willapa Bay, Washington and evaluate the functional value of these habitats for juvenile English sole.

Sub-objective 2.2. Quantify the effects of oyster aquaculture on aquatic vegetation and utilize habitat maps to examine this interaction at the estuarine landscape scale and over inter-annual time frames.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Conduct research in marine/estuarine ecology to develop new and sustainable approaches to controlling bivalve shellfish pests and predators such as burrowing shrimp, crab, and drills. Using a systems approach, examine key aquaculture management practices and their impacts on ecological components of complex, dynamic estuarine environments. Establish a clear understanding of the life history, ecology and biology of key pests and predators that impact survival and production of shellfish. Identify and evaluate potential control agents for efficacy in controlling these pests in an integrated pest management system. Develop a multidisciplinary approach in collaboration with USDA ARS, Oregon State University, and EPA scientists located at the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center, Newport, OR, and elsewhere as needed. Work with outreach and extension personnel groups to transfer technology to shellfish growers. FY03 Program Increase $223,537. 1 SY. FY04 Program Increase $120,783. Replacing 5358-63000-001-00D (7/05). Replacing 5358-63000-002-00D (11/09).


3.Progress Report
Project 5358-63000-003-00D, approved through the OSQR process replaced project 5358-63000-002-00D which was terminated 12/13/2009 (natural progression). Refer to terminated project for accomplishments.

An underwater video system was developed and used to track fish behavior in oyster, eelgrass and open unstructured habitats in Willapa Bay, Washington. Results suggest that mobile fish and invertebrates and in particular juvenile English sole that utilize estuaries as a nursery in their first year of life, preferentially select structured habitats over open unstructured sand and mud. Further work was begun to elucidate whether this was for protection from larger predators or for feed in and particularly how shellfish aquaculture influences habitat use at a larger landscape scale. This is important for maintaining sustainable aquaculture activities in these marine environments where permits have recently been re-evaluated and management agencies are increasingly concerned with conserving endangered species and protecting essential fish habitats.


Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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