Aug. 31, 2005 A study published in the latest issue of Restoration Ecology finds that in coastal Louisiana, oyster reefs help to deter erosion. Oyster reefs are self-sustaining, and are additionally attractive because they use native materials, have the potential for long-term growth, and contribute to overall ecosystem stability and quality. Oyster larvae move in groups and water-borne chemicals stimulate the oysters' settlement; reefs are therefore able to maintain themselves as new recruits settle and grow.
"Sustainability is an important component to note as maintenance requirements would likely be reduced on created oyster shell reefs as opposed to other heavier shoreline protection structures (i.e. limestone rock breakwaters) which usually necessitate placement of additional material over time to maintain their effectiveness," authors, Bryan P. Piazza, Patrick D. Banks, and Megan K. La Peyre state.
The authors evaluated the effectiveness of six experimental shell reefs on both low and high wave energy shorelines in coastal Louisiana. The areas chosen were conducive to oyster habitation, evidenced by the abundance of oyster shells in surrounding waters. Measuring erosion over a year, the authors found that their small, fringing oyster shell reefs were effective in slowing erosion for low wave energy shorelines, though less effective in higher wave energy environments. The authors conclude that "... the use of small created fringing oyster shell reefs has the potential to provide a useful shoreline stabilization tool to coastal managers under low energy environments."
Restoration Ecology fosters the exchange of ideas among the many disciplines involved in the process of ecological restoration. Addressing global concerns and communicating them to the international scientific community, the journal is at the forefront of a vital new direction in science and ecology. It is published on behalf of the Society for Ecological Restoration International.
Megan K. La Peyre is a fisheries biologist and assistant unit Leader in Fisheries for the U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit. She is also an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources and Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University.
Bryan P. Piazza is a Research Associate in the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, and is currently pursuing a PhD at LSU. He has worked in coastal systems for 12 years as a researcher, resource manager, policy developer, and consultant.
Patrick D. Banks is the Biologist Program Manager in charge of oyster resource management on over 1.64 million acres of public oyster grounds for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He serves as the LDWF member on the Louisiana Oyster Task Force and is a member of the national Status Review Team (SRT) currently reviewing the petition to list the Eastern oyster under the Endangered Species Act.
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