A Restoration Suitability Index Model for the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in the Mission-Aransas Estuary, TX, USA




Pollack, Jennifer Beseres
Cleveland, Andrew
Palmer, Terence A.
Reisinger, Anthony S.
Montagna, Paul A.


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Oyster reefs are one of the most threatened marine habitats on earth, with habitat loss resulting from water quality degradation, coastal development, destructive fishing practices, overfishing, and storm impacts. For successful and sustainable oyster reef restoration efforts, it is necessary to choose sites that support long-term growth and survival of oysters. Selection of suitable sites is critically important as it can greatly influence mortality factors and may largely determine the ultimate success of the restoration project. The application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provides an effective methodology for identifying suitable sites for oyster reef restoration and removes much of the uncertainty involved in the sometimes trial and error selection process. This approach also provides an objective and quantitative tool for planning future oyster reef restoration efforts. The aim of this study was to develop a restoration suitability index model and reef quality index model to characterize locations based on their potential for successful reef restoration within the Mission-Aransas Estuary, Texas, USA. The restoration suitability index model focuses on salinity, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and depth, while the reef quality index model focuses on abundance of live oysters, dead shell, and spat. Size-specific Perkinsus marinus infection levels were mapped to illustrate general disease trends. This application was effective in identifying suitable sites for oyster reef restoration, is flexible in its use, and provides a mechanism for considering alternative approaches. The end product is a practical decision-support tool that can be used by coastal resource managers to improve oyster restoration efforts. As oyster reef restoration activities continue at small and large-scales, site selection criteria are critical for assisting stakeholders and managers and for maximizing long-term sustainability of oyster resources.



Oysters, Reefs, Estuaries, Salinity, Turbidity, Dissolved oxygen, Gulf of Mexico, Geographic Information Systems




Beseres Pollack J, Cleveland A, Palmer TA, Reisinger AS, Montagna PA (2012) A Restoration Suitability Index Model for the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in the Mission-Aransas Estuary, TX, USA. PLoS ONE 7(7): e40839. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040839