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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

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

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

2011 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.


3.Progress Report
Progress was made on both objectives and their subobjectives, all of which fall under National Program 106, Component 5, Improving Production Systems, Developing New Products and Enhancing Product Quality. Progress on this project focuses on Problem 5C, the need for a better understanding of the interaction between shellfish aquaculture production systems and the environment. Significant progress was made in completing analysis of a multi-year survey which revealed that populations of two species of burrowing shrimp that cause substantial problems for the shellfish aquaculture industry are declining in estuaries along the US West coast. Survey results suggested that shrimp abundance is directly linked to interannual variation in recruitment, since shrimp larvae are flushed from and then must return to these estuaries from the coastal ocean. New research was initiated to determine whether this was the result of oceanographic conditions and to track the fate of this new year class of juvenile shrimp.


Review Publications
Dumbauld, B.R., Kauffman, B.E., Trimble, A.C., Ruesink, J.L. 2011. The Willapa Bay Oyster Reserves in Washington State: Fishery collapse, creating a sustainable replacement, and the potential for habitat conservation and restoration. Journal of Shellfish Research. 30:71-83.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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