Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Could oysters be used to clean up Chesapeake Bay?

Date:
January 23, 2011
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Chronic water quality problems caused by agricultural and urban runoff, municipal wastewater, and atmospheric deposition from the burning of fossil fuels leads to oxygen depletion, loss of biodiversity, and harmful algal blooms. This nutrient pollution is prevalent in many coastal marine and estuarine ecosystems worldwide. Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and although many efforts have been taken to improve its water quality, nutrient pollution still keeps it at unacceptable levels. In a new study, biologists have measured the nutrient removal capacity of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica.

Chronic water quality problems caused by agricultural and urban runoff, municipal wastewater, and atmospheric deposition from the burning of fossil fuels leads to oxygen depletion, loss of biodiversity, and harmful algal blooms. This nutrient pollution is prevalent in many coastal marine and estuarine ecosystems worldwide. Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and although many efforts have been taken to improve its water quality, nutrient pollution still keeps it at unacceptable levels.

In a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, biologists at Virginia Commonwealth University measured the nutrient removal capacity of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica.

Researchers found that an additional 2.5 cm of growth allowed a farmed oyster to remove 2.2 times the nutrients of a regular oyster. In fact, a large scale oyster farm harvesting 1 million of these 76 mm oysters can remove 132 kg of nitrogen, 19 kg of phosphorus, and 3,823 kg of carbon. The full study is available in the January/February 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Oysters were a novel yet obvious choice to enhance the ecosystem's water quality. They process nutrients while feeding on phytoplankton and then store the nutrients in their shells and tissue through a process known as bioassimilation. Although Chesapeake Bay is a natural habitat for the Eastern oyster, 99% of the native population has been lost. This prompted researchers to explore the use of commercial oyster farms.

Oysters were raised at two commercial-scale aquaculture sites in Chesapeake Bay as well as a site in Maryland and one in Virginia to represent two typical cultivation environments in the Bay. The nutrient contents of the tissues and shells of oysters of various sizes were measured.

According to Colleen Higgins of Virginia Commonwealth University, "Based on these results, it would take eight large-scale oyster farms harvesting one million (of these) 76 mm oysters per year to remove one ton of nitrogen from the Bay, providing managers with the ability to determine the practical implication of such an ecosystem service."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Colleen B. Higgins, Kurt Stephenson, Bonnie L. Brown. Nutrient Bioassimilation Capacity of Aquacultured Oysters: Quantification of an Ecosystem Service. Journal of Environment Quality, 2011; 40 (1): 271 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2010.0203

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Could oysters be used to clean up Chesapeake Bay?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121103750.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2011, January 23). Could oysters be used to clean up Chesapeake Bay?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121103750.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Could oysters be used to clean up Chesapeake Bay?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121103750.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins