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VIMS researchers identify tipping point in oyster reef restoration

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have identified a tipping point in oyster restoration wherein reefs rebuilt to reach a foot or more above the bottom develop into healthy, self-sustaining ecosystems.

However, oyster reefs rebuilt at lower heights are quickly coated and then buried by sediment, said the study, which was the featured article in the Nov. 6 issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series. The study is co-authored by former VIMS Ph.D. student Allison Colden, now Maryland fisheries scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, along with VIMS professors Rob Latour and Rom Lipcius.

The researchers said their findings can help explain oyster loss and enhance oyster restoration efforts not only in the bay but worldwide as well. Native oyster populations have declined around the globe during the last century due to over-fishing, nutrient pollution, disease, and degraded habitat, with major economic and ecological impacts, the report said.

The research team used ...

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