A study published in the latest issue of Restoration Ecology finds thatin coastal Louisiana, oyster reefs help to deter erosion. Oyster reefsare self-sustaining, and are additionally attractive because they usenative materials, have the potential for long-term growth, andcontribute to overall ecosystem stability and quality. Oyster larvaemove in groups and water-borne chemicals stimulate the oysters'settlement; reefs are therefore able to maintain themselves as newrecruits settle and grow.
"Sustainability is an important component to note as maintenancerequirements would likely be reduced on created oyster shell reefs asopposed to other heavier shoreline protection structures (i.e.limestone rock breakwaters) which usually necessitate placement ofadditional material over time to maintain their effectiveness,"authors, Bryan P. Piazza, Patrick D. Banks, and Megan K. La Peyrestate.
The authors evaluated the effectiveness of six experimental shellreefs on both low and high wave energy shorelines in coastal Louisiana.The areas chosen were conducive to oyster habitation, evidenced by theabundance of oyster shells in surrounding waters. Measuring erosionover a year, the authors found that their small, fringing oyster shellreefs were effective in slowing erosion for low wave energy shorelines,though less effective in higher wave energy environments. The authorsconclude that "... the use of small created fringing oyster shell reefshas the potential to provide a useful shoreline stabilization tool tocoastal managers under low energy environments."
Restoration Ecology fosters the exchange of ideas among the manydisciplines involved in the process of ecological restoration.Addressing global concerns and communicating them to the internationalscientific community, the journal is at the forefront of a vital newdirection in science and ecology. It is published on behalf of theSociety for Ecological Restoration International.
Megan K. La Peyre is a fisheries biologist and assistant unitLeader in Fisheries for the U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish andWildlife Cooperative Research Unit. She is also an adjunct assistantprofessor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources and Departmentof Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University.
Bryan P. Piazza is a Research Associate in the USGS CooperativeFish and Wildlife Research Unit at Louisiana State UniversityAgricultural Center, and is currently pursuing a PhD at LSU. He hasworked in coastal systems for 12 years as a researcher, resourcemanager, policy developer, and consultant.
Patrick D. Banks is the Biologist Program Manager in charge ofoyster resource management on over 1.64 million acres of public oystergrounds for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Heserves as the LDWF member on the Louisiana Oyster Task Force and is amember of the national Status Review Team (SRT) currently reviewing thepetition to list the Eastern oyster under the Endangered Species Act.
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