Savarese, M. Florida Gulf Coast University, msavares@fgcu.edu
Brewster, S. Florida Gulf Coast University, badfarm@ewol.com
Brand, L. E.. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, lbrand@rsmas.miami.edu

 
INFLUENCE OF WATER MANAGEMENT PRACTICES ON OYSTER REEF DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTIVITY WITHIN ESTUARIES OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
 
Water management practices to accommodate urbanization and agriculture are common in Southwest Florida. Consequently, some estuaries now receive greater quantities of freshwater. The American oyster is prolific within many estuaries. However, oyster reef distributional patterns within altered estuaries suggest that the focus of oyster maximum productivity has shifted historically. To investigate a causal relationship between human-altered water quality and oyster productivity, comparisons were made among pristine and altered estuaries at spatially homologous points (exhibiting similar geomorphology and position along estuarine gradients). Physical water quality, primary productivity, and nutrients were measured iteratively during wet and dry seasons. Reef distribution was mapped and oyster productivity measured by calibrating shell length to biomass. Oyster productivities at the individual and reef levels vary incongruently; homologues where individuals are most productive do not correspond with those of high reef productivity. Foci of reef productivity differ between altered and pristine estuaries. The location of highest reef productivity within the most altered watershed is seaward relative to less altered estuaries, as predicted by the higher volume of freshwater. Preliminary results comparing patterns of water quality suggest that mesohaline waters of higher primary productivity temporally dominate the seaward homologues within the highly altered estuary where reef productivity is greatest.
 
Day: Wednesday, Feb. 3
Time: Poster
Location: Sweeney Center
 
Code: CS59WE0607S