Oyster reef restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico: effect of artificial substrate and age on nekton and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblage use

  • Published source details Brown L.A., Furlong J.N., Brown K.M. & La P.M.K. (2014) Oyster reef restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico: effect of artificial substrate and age on nekton and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblage use. Restoration Ecology, 22, 214-222.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore biogenic habitats (other methods) - Restore oyster reefs

Action Link
Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation
  1. Restore biogenic habitats (other methods) - Restore oyster reefs

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2011 of 20 oyster reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Florida, USA (Brown et al. 2014) found that the effect of restoring reefs of eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica on oysters and reef-associated invertebrates depended on the material used for restoration and the age of the reef. Reefs restored by laying rocks had similar oyster abundance (102–105 oyster/m2) to natural reefs (136 oyster/m2), while reefs restored by laying oyster shells had lower oyster abundance (3–22 oyster/m2) than any other reefs, regardless of the age of the restored reefs. In addition, diversity of reef-associated invertebrates (reported as diversity index) was similar in rock-restored reefs regardless of age, young shell-restored reefs (under five-year-old) and natural reefs, but significantly lower in old shell-restored reefs (over five-year-old). Overall abundance of reef-associated invertebrates was similar in young rock-restored reefs (106) and old shell-restored reefs (58) to natural reefs (182), but higher in old rock-restored reefs (345) and young shell-restored reefs (338) compared to natural reefs. Invertebrates were surveyed on 20 reefs (100 m offshore; approximately 2 m depth). Eight had been restored by laying rocks (six old; two young), five had been restored by laying shells (two old; three young), and seven were natural reefs. In October 2011, divers counted live eastern oysters in the top 10 cm of reef (five 0.25 m2 quadrats/reef). In May and again in July 2011, two 30 ×30 cm bags containing oyster shells were deployed at each reef to capture invertebrates and retrieved after one month (80 bags total). All four bags/reef were combined, and invertebrates (<1 mm) were identified and counted.

    (Summarised by: Anaëlle Lemasson)

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