Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NJ022B

Impact of extreme precipitation events on eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) ecosystem services

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-02-24 End Date: 2021-02-22
Total Federal Funds: $4,995 Total Non-Federal Funds: $9,990

Principal Investigators: Janine Barr

Abstract: The purpose of this project is to quantify Delaware Bay eastern oysters’ (Crassostrea virginica) ability to remove nutrients from the water column under today’s water quality conditions as well as future climatic conditions. The Delaware Bay is expected to experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events with climate change. This increase in freshwater may increase the amount of nutrient pollution from runoff and decrease the ability of oysters to filter feed due to low salinity stress. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is in the process of developing updated nutrient surface water quality standards to protect local biota from the harmful effects of nutrient pollution. Harvesting oysters (i.e., bioextraction) is an inexpensive way to help NJDEP meet more protective water quality goals. However, accurate oyster filtration rate (FR) data is needed prior to NJDEP implementing bioextration policies. This study will fill this data gap by collecting in situ seasonal measurements of individual oyster FRs using a flow-through filtration chamber. FRs will be used in combination with oyster population demographic information to estimate an individual oyster reef and farm’s year-round filtration capacity (i.e., amount of nitrogen removed in one year). Oysters will be subject to contemporary and future low salinity conditions (CSC and FLSC). Both fished and farmed oysters are expected to make significant nutrient reductions in CSC trials and negligible reductions in FLSC trials. The results will inform NJDEP’s use of nutrient trading programs that are resilient to climate change.