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Does Oyster Aquaculture Affect Nitrogen Loss From Sediments?

Published on: 12/18/2014
Research Area(s): Marine Spatial Ecology
Primary Contact(s): suzanne.bricker@noaa.gov

Off-bottom oyster aquaculture (Crassostrea virginica) is currently being investigated for possible effects on nutrient processes of surrounding sediments by a Virginia Sea Grant Research Fellow, Abby Lunstrum, under the guidance of an NCCOS mentor. The research assesses whether, and to what extent, biodeposition from this type of aquaculture operations stimulates loss of nitrogen from the sediment.

Abby Lunstrum at RubySalts oyster aquaculture farm

Abby Lunstrum, a VA Sea Grant Fellow, is investigating nitrogen loss in sediments associated with oyster aquaculture at the Ruby Salts aquaculture farm on the Cherrystone Creek of Virginia.

Early results from this two year project suggest that there are greater losses of nitrogen from sediments under aquaculture cages in summer than from bare bottom areas, but they are lower than previously reported results from natural oyster reefs. The measurements will be extended through the year and rates will be confirmed in the conclusion of the project. These research results will be used to inform policy discussions on the use of bivalve aquaculture to mitigate nutrient enrichment of coastal waters.

For more information contact Suzanne Bricker.

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