Recent oyster settler

Spatial and temporal variation in settlement of the Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida, in Newport Bay, CA.

My research focuses on the only species of oyster that is native to the west coast of the United States, Ostrea lurida. This oyster was once abundant along the coast but in the early 1900s, pollution and over-harvesting lead to significant population crashes. There are currently many restoration projects taking place in Oregon, Washington and northern California, but little is understood about what factors control population growth. Processes controlling settlement dynamics of this species are of particular interest because we can exploit natural settlement of spat for seeding restoration habitat.

I am interested in studying this species’ settlement patterns over time throughout one estuary. I was formerly in charge of monitoring settlement at six sites in Newport Bay using ceramic settlement tiles attached to PVC tees. The ambient temperature has been continuously monitored by attaching small Tidbit™ loggers to my settlement tees. This research has been ongoing in the Zacherl lab for five years and now other undergraduates in the lab are in charge of it.

Factors influencing settlement choice of the Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida: tidal height and distance from bottom

I am also interested in studying the settlement of the oyster larvae as a function of tidal height. It would be useful to know if there was a particular depth or height from the bottom at which the oysters can settle. This information will help those who are performing restoration projects to efficiently collect the maximum amount of spat. A preliminary study was done where an apparatus was deployed using SCUBA divers. We found that we could not separate the effects of tidal height and distance from the bottom so I performed another study. Once again, PVC tees were set out over two weeks at varying distances from the bottom as well as tidal heights.  

These studies are all ongoing.

Lily Sam stuck in the mud in Newport Bay, CA