Interactions between oyster reefs and adjacent sandflats : effects on microphytobenthos and sediment characteristics

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Thomas J. Molesky (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Lawrence Cahoon

Abstract: Oyster reef restoration is currently receiving increased attention as a means of enhancing water quality and fisheries. Oyster reefs not only directly provide habitat for fish and invertebrates, but also may indirectly affect adjacent sandflat areas with broader ecological consequences. Aspects of reef morphology, including vertical and edge complexity, influence the degree of impact oyster reefs have on adjacent communities. This study examines the extent to which created reefs of varying vertical and edge complexity influence sediment nutrient fluxes, microphytobenthos biomass, sediment grain size, and sediment organic content in a southeastern North Carolina intertidal sandflat. An overall significant effect of reef edge complexity on microphytobenthos biomass, pore water nutrients, and sediment grain size was discovered, though some patterns varied seasonally. Reef surface complexity was associated with changes in sediment characteristics, including greater proportions of fine sediments and percent organic matter immediately adjacent to the reef. Seasonal trends were highly significant with strong differences among seasons. This study is significant in demonstrating linkages between intertidal oyster reefs and adjacent sandflat communities including changes in microphytobenthos biomass and sediment characteristics in the sandflat area. Moreover, the nature of these linkages is influenced by both edge and surface attributes of the reef.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Science
Language: English
Date: 2009
Estuarine sediments, Oyster culture, Shellfish fisheries
Oyster culture
Shellfish fisheries
Estuarine sediments

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