APALACHICOLA BAY SYSTEM INITIATIVE

 

Deploying a handheld YSI Multiparameter Water Quality Meter, the team visits and array of sites collecting salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity, pH, and turbidity data that can be downloaded to computers and used to develop biophysical models necessary to forecast how bay conditions will affect oyster productivity. In addition, we will soon deploy YSI Exo sonde data loggers that collect data every 15 minutes. While the handheld YSI does not collect data as frequently, it allows us to fill in spatial gaps since the Exo sondes, practically speaking, will not move once they are put in place. The ABSI research team uses the compiled data to help determine the conditions that contributed to recent dramatic declines in oyster populations compared to those conditions that are optimal for oyster survival and reproduction.

APALACHICOLA BAY SYSTEM INITIATIVE Deploying a handheld YSI Multiparameter Water Quality Meter, the team visits and array of sites collecting salinity,

We know that environmental factors play an important role in the health and well being of oyster populations. When optimal, they cue oysters to spawn when food is available to support rapid growth. However, when conditions are poor, they can lead to stunted growth, higher rates of predation, and greater vulnerability to disease, among other things (see slides on oyster ecology and ABSI research update). With this knowledge, the team will develop a spatially explicit oyster population model that will be used to evaluate management and restoration options under different environmental conditions.

These factors are not the only things affecting oyster survival. Other pressures include overharvesting (which leads to habitat loss, since oyster reefs serve as critical habitat) and, as we are learning now, climate change. The focus of ABSI is to determine the suite of pressures that led to a decline and to develop methods for restoration and management that will result in a more resilient and sustainable ecosystem.

This research was recently enhanced by the acquisition of a new research vessel (pictured above), donated to FSUCML by Yamaha Rightwaters and Skeeter BoatsYamaha Rightwaters launched on World Oceans Day 2019, champions marine stewardship in many forms. They were drawn to FSUCML and the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative by its focus on ecosystem recovery and have proven to be excellent partners.

Learn more about ABSI by exploring the research components below.

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