Oyster reefs support diverse estuarine communities and food webs. Factors controlling oyster reef community development were studied on restored reefs in the St. Lucie Estuary. Freshwater discharges create stresses that cause oyster mortality, habitat loss and reduction in reef community diversity. Using structural equation modeling, it was demonstrated that salinity, turbidity, and chlorophyll-a gradients influence oysters and some reef invertebrate species, but did not support the predictions of the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis. In contrast, diversity and species richness were greatest at low stress sites. A field experiment showed that topographic relief and architectural complexity enhanced colonization and growth of reef-building species (e.g. oysters and mussels). The relief by complexity interaction had a higher order, synergistic effect on oyster abundance. When considered separately, increasing relief further enhanced dominant sessile taxa (cirripeds and ascideans); while, increasing complexity supported greater species richness and the abundance of cirripeds.
|Advisor:||Proffitt, C. Edward|
|Commitee:||Devlin, Donna J., Dorn, Nathan J.|
|School:||Florida Atlantic University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||MAI 51/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Biological oceanography|
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