Integrating field methods and numerical models to quantify the links between oyster larval transport, connectivity, and population dynamics

Grant awarded to:
Elizabeth North

Victor Kennedy
Scott Gallager
Christine Thompson 

Research technicians:
Zachary Schlag
Steven Suttles
Thomas Wazniak
Adam Schlenger (2009)
Adam Hardy (2010)

PhD student:
Jake Goodwin

UMCES Horn Point Laboratory

Funded by:
National Science Foundation Biological Oceanography **

back to E. North
research pages

Data Pages

Objectives ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The objectives of this coupled-field and modeling research program awere to 1) determine
the physical and biological conditions that cue oyster (Crassostrea virginica) spawning in the Choptank River, 2) identify the vertical gradients that cue oyster larval behavior, 3) develop, enhance, and validate a biophysical larval transport model of the Choptank River, 4) develop and link a demographic model to the larval transport model, 5) use the linked larval transport-demographic model to assess how environmental variability and habitat alteration influence oyster reef connectivity and population dynamics, and 6) apply findings and predictions to support oyster restoration and management efforts. Although this integrated program will focus on oysters, the scientific activities will result in a significant enhancement of our understanding of the interactions between physical conditions and other bivalves like soft clams and mussels.

One of the important aspects of this TRANSPORT research program was testing and validating and new technique for identifying bivalve larvae and applying it to understand patterns in the distribution of oyster larvae. ShellBi is a novel supervised image classification method that uses birefringence patterns on the shells of bivalve larvae under polarized light to identify species. We developed an automated image acquisition system which would allow us to quickly process plankton samples and identify bivalve larvae using ShellBi.

Publications ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Publications that are completed or are in preparation as part of this research program include:

• Anthony, Z. 2014. Optimal microscope and camera settings for counting and identifying copepods (Acartia tonsa) using a newly developed semi-automated image analysis technology. Undergraduate Research Report. 14 pp.
• Gallego, A., E.W. North and E.D. Houde. 2012. Understanding and quantifying mortality in pelagic, early life stages of marine organisms — Old challenges and new perspectives. Journal of Marine Systems 93: 1-3.
• Goodwin, J. D. 2015. Integrating automated imaging and a novel identification technique to estimate mortality and factors that determine the vertical distribution of Crassostrea virginica larvae. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Maryland College Park and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
• Goodwin, J. D., and E.W. North. In prep. Identifying factors that influence the swimming behavior of C. virginica larvae in Choptank River and calculating their mortality.
• Goodwin, J. D., E. W. North, and C. M. Thompson. 2014. Evaluating and improving a semi-automated image analysis technique for identifying bivalve larvae. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 12: 548-562. DOI: 10.4319/lom.2014.12.548
• Goodwin, J. D., E.W. North, I. D. Mitchell, C. M. Thompson, and H.M McFadden. In prep. Improving a semi-automated classification technique for bivalve larvae: automated image acquisition and measures of quality control.
• Hinson, K. I., E.W. North, and C.M. Thompson. 2011. New technologies to support shellfish restoration. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) final report.
• North, E. W., D. M. King, J. Xu, R. R. Hood, R. I. E. Newell, K. T. Paynter, M. L. Kellogg, M. K. Liddel, and D. F. Boesch. 2010. Linking optimization and ecological models in a decision support tool for oyster restoration and management. Ecological Applications 20(3): 851–866.
• Schlag, Z. R., and E. W. North. 2012. Lagrangian TRANSport model (LTRANS v.2) User’s Guide. University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory. Cambridge, MD. 183 pp.
• Spires, J. E. The exchange of eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) larvae between subpopulations in the Chotpank and Little Choptank Rivers: model simulations, the influence of salinity, and implications for restoration. Master of Science Thesis, University of Maryland College Park and Center for Environmental Science, 79 pp.
• Spires, J., E. W. North, and W. Long. In prep. The exchange of eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) larvae between subpopulations in an oligohaline estuary: model simulations, the influence of salinity, and implications for restoration. Estuaries and Coasts.
• Thompson, C. M., E. W. North, V. S. Kennedy, and S. N. White. 2015. Classifying bivalve larvae using shell pigments identified by Raman spectra. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 407:3591-3604, DOI 10.1007/s00216-015-8575-8
• Thompson, C.M., E.W. North, S.N. White, and S.M. Gallager. 2014. An analysis of bivalve larval shell pigments using micro-Raman spectroscopy. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 45(5):349-358

Data Sets ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Available at BCO-DMO here.

Training Set ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The COM1000 training set (COM1000) is a zip file that contains images of bivalve larvae found in the Choptank River at the same time as C. virginica. See Goodwin et al. (2014) and Goodwin (2015) for more information.  




**This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OCE-0829512. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).