July 17, 2014
CAMBRIDGE — A team of scientists at the UMCES Horn Point Laboratory has been developing a computer model to visualize where free-floating oyster larvae are likely to settle and grow to adulthood. The National Science Foundation funded their five-year initiative, which will provide management crews with new tools to curb Chesapeake Bay’s sinking oyster population.
“Our main objectives for this grant are to test and advance a new technology for identifying oyster larvae,” said Dr. Elizabeth North, a teacher and researcher at Horn Point. “We hope to apply this technology to aid oyster restoration efforts.”
Oysters spend their initial life stage adrift in the water column. North and her colleagues observe how winds, tides, and freshwater flow influence larval movements year to year. Their analysis of these physical-biological relationships can provide insight on the circulation patterns, swimming behavior, and long-term survival of young oysters, as well as young mussels and clams in the Bay.
“We’re trying to validate larval transport models that inform us where oyster larvae travel,” said Jake Goodwin, a Ph.D. candidate advised by North at Horn Point. Goodwin has studied oysters for over 10 years.
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