Friday September 16, 2016
7:30 P.M. Earth and Space Sciences Building 001
Free parking in Lots west of building
Oysters: Can We Save Them? Can They Save Us?
Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University
Oysters live throughout the world, usually living in clusters on intertidal areas and in oyster reefs or mounds below the waterline. They secrete calcium carbonate shells which enclose a soft body whose gills pump water and capture enormous amounts of algae. Their abundance as oyster mounds probably absorbs wave shock and helps to protect shores. Their algal clearance rate contributes to water clarity, as planktonic algae are removed. The clarity allows light to reach seagrasses and prevents the algae from dying, decaying and resulting in a lack of dissolved oxygen. But oyster reefs are in trouble around the world owing to overexploitation by fishing and because of pollution.
I will discuss the great loss of oysters and how we can restore reefs and might be able to substitute some of their ecosystem functioning by aquaculture approaches that can complement reef restoration. But I will also question how much oysters really benefit coastal ecosystems. Can they really clear out the water of modern coastal environments, which are enveloped in nutrients? Are oyster reefs, even if restored, capable of clearing our bays and harbors? Most important, are they really effective at absorbing wave shock or do they merely complement marsh systems which should be the real targets of restoration? Evidence new and old suggests that oysters are beneficial but they have limits that must be understood.
Jeffrey Levinton is a marine ecologist with broad experience on the ecology and feeding biology of marine bivalves. He has worked on oyster performance in this region and developed metrics of oyster clearance on local algae. He is author of several books, including the textbook "Marine Biology: Function, Ecology, Biodiversity" now being developed into a 5
th edition. He is webmaster of the Marine Biology Web Page, with career advice translated into many languages, now about at one million visits. He is Distinguished Professor at Stony Brook University and is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Senior Scholar, was Chair of the Hudson River Foundation's Hudson River Fund, and is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Living World web site: http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/marinebio/livingworld
OR google living world and stony brook