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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337063

Title: Denitrification and phosphorus sequestration in restored Oyster beds in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA

item GALLAGHER, S. - University Of Nevada
item SCHMIDT, C. - Desert Research Institute
item WALTERS, L. - University Of Central Florida
item Blank, Robert - Bob

Submitted to: American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In 2016, an algae bloom in the St. Lucie River in Florida led the governor to declare a state of emergency. The river is part of a connected system of estuaries along the Atlantic coast of Florida called the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). As with many estuaries around the world, nutrient loading in the IRL has led to periodic eutrophication. As a result, much research has been done to address nutrients in these systems. Previous estuary studies have related oyster restoration to denitrification and phosphorus sequestration in their bed sediment. To this point, these studies have been inconclusive, and have only focused on seasonal variation in nutrient cycling. In 2007, yearly oyster bed installation and restoration began in a study area in the IRL. By 2016, beds aged up to eleven years were available for sampling. This unique advantage allowed investigation of bed sediment and nutrient cycling over long periods of time. Sediment from the IRL was measured for organic matter, microbial weight, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Denitrification was measured using an acetylene block technique. A statistical analysis was used to find differences in sediment characteristics and denitrification between restored beds and control sites over time. In addition, sequencing of 16S rRNA DNA and a variety of denitrifying genes was used to identify bacterial species and their denitrifying capability in the sediment. The ability to sequence denitrification genes in established oyster beds over a period of years was also unique to this study. Significant differences were found in soil properties, denitrification rates, and phosphorus sequestration between control sites and restored oyster beds. Gene sequencing also found differences in bacterial populations between the sites. Oyster bed restoration resulted in a rapid increase in nutrient removal as beds developed over three years, but additional benefits were limited as restoration progressed further. This study adds an investigation of IRL oysters to existing knowledge of nutrient removal by oysters in other estuaries. These results help clarify single year studies focused on seasonal changes by showing a rapid increase in oyster bed nutrient removal over a period of three years.