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Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico (2017)

Chapter: Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring

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Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring

WHY RESTORE OYSTER REEFS?

Healthy and well-developed intertidal and subtidal oyster reefs provide services to the ecosystems within which they reside, including habitat for numerous ecologically and economically important species; water filtration; reduction in nutrients, sediment, and harmful algal blooms; and shoreline protection or enhancement (e.g., Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Coen et al., 2007; Grabowski and Peterson, 2007; Arkema et al., 2013; Baggett et al., 2014; Walles et al., 2015a, 2016a). Among other benefits, restoration improves commercial, subsistence, and recreational harvests of oysters and other valuable species. Wildstock oyster harvests in the Gulf of Mexico (the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica) are still some of the highest in the world, but their abundance within the Gulf of Mexico has declined by 50%-99% based on historical records (Airoldi and Beck, 2007; Beck et al., 2011; zu Ermgassen et al., 2012).

Although intertidal oyster reefs are not generally harvested in the Gulf of Mexico, they were likely directly affected by oil and act as seed areas to populate harvested reefs, as well as provide a number of other valuable services. Therefore, both types of reefs are important to consider for restoration, and will be addressed in this report. Properly conducted restoration can enhance existing populations, in addition to creating new reefs that are comparable to historically well-developed natural reefs. Oyster restoration and related efforts in the Gulf have been shown to improve seafood harvests (potentially with even greater returns for dependent fisheries species than for oysters alone), support income and employment, and reduce coastal vulnerability to both natural disasters and small-scale erosion (e.g., Grabowski et al., 2012; Kroeger, 2012; Arkema et al., 2013). The good practices contained within this section are intended to better inform restoration and related monitoring efforts while providing overall consistency as much as possible across the Gulf of Mexico to better compare restoration outcomes.

RESTORATION OBJECTIVES

As mentioned above, common high-level goals that involve oyster restoration include creating/enhancing reef habitat, increasing oyster harvests, improving water quality and removing nutrients, increasing water clarity, enhancing adjacent habitats, and reducing coastal vulnerability. To assess progress toward any of these outcomes, a monitoring protocol must begin by translating restoration goal(s) into specific and measurable objectives with associated metrics (see Chapter 2). The main objectives for oyster reef habitat restoration have been described by Coen et al. (2004) in six categories: (1) enhancing resources to address the goal of improving harvests (Powers et al., 2009; Schulte et al., 2009; but see Coen and Luckenbach, 2000 and Powers and Boyer, 2014); (2) creating broodstock sanctuaries to enhance areas with low recruitment (Southworth and Mann, 1998; Southworth et al., 2010); (3) enhancing nursery and feeding habitat (through predation effects) to increase critical habitat and secondary production (Coen et al., 1999b; Peterson et al., 2003; zu Ermgassen et al., 2016); (4) increasing filtration, nutrient cycling, and nitrogen, phosphorus, and/or carbon sequestration in tissues and shells to meet the goal of improving water quality or clarity (Dame and Libes, 1993; Nelson et al., 2004; Grizzle et al., 2008; Higgins et al., 2011; Kellogg et al., 2014; Smyth et al., 2016); (5) stabilizing shorelines (sometimes as part of what is referred to as creating living shorelines) by reducing wave energy and erosion (Meyer et al., 1997; Piazza et al., 2005; Walles et al., 2015a, 2016a), or by enhancing restoration of adjacent habitats (Milbrandt et al., 2015); and (6) promoting education to improve community involvement (Brumbaugh et al., 2000a, 2000b, 2006, Brumbaugh and Coen, 2009; Hadley et al., 2010).

Examples of common restoration objectives are provided in Table II.1, including oyster population enhancement, habitat enhancement for other species, water quality/clarity improvement, and adjacent habitat enhancement. Table II.1 also lists a set of measurable metrics (described below) that may help assess progress toward these objectives in many cases, depending on the relevant monitoring purpose (Note that example metrics to support monitoring for adaptive management are not included because of their inherent project/program-specificity).

Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

WHY MONITOR OYSTER REEF RESTORATION?

Practical and scientific understanding of oyster reef restoration is relatively advanced, and strong guidance exists to inform monitoring protocols and techniques depending on particular restoration objectives (e.g., Baggett et al., 2014). However, much of this progress is due to the focus of past activities on restoring oysters as a harvestable resource. Consequently, monitoring has largely focused on restoration with the objective on improving harvests and monitoring to improve restoration with other objectives has been lagging (Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Kennedy et al., 2011; La Peyre, et al., 2014; Powers and Boyer, 2014; Coen and Humphries, 2016), although restoring oyster reefs to enhance ecosystem service provision is becoming more common (e.g., Coen et al., 2007).

As illustrated in Part I of this report (Box 1.2), monitoring oyster reef restoration can benefit restoration practice by demonstrating which factors contribute to effective restoration. However, few cases between 1990-2007 in the Chesapeake Bay were guided by clear goals and objectives, and only 43% of restoration recorded included any monitoring components. When monitoring did occur, it was usually inadequate to assess changes in oyster populations on constructed reefs due to a lack of replication, consistent and quantitative methodologies, and related sampling designs (Kennedy et al., 2011; Baggett et al., 2014; La Peyre et al., 2014). Similar analyses of smaller and more diverse datasets have been conducted in the Gulf of Mexico (La Peyre et al. 2014) with fewer than 25% of oyster reef restoration projects in the northern Gulf being monitored or even reported at all. Therefore, text below provides guidance and good practices for monitoring oyster restoration.

DECISION-CRITICAL UNCERTAINTIES

Presently there are few, if any, rigorous (and general) conceptual models available for oyster reef restoration, or for that matter that apply specifically to the Gulf of Mexico (see Figure II.1). Most available models have addressed a subsection of possible restoration-related objectives, relating more to habitat suitability and site selection (e.g., Cake, 1983; Barnes et al., 2007; Pollack et al., 2012; La Peyre et al., 2015) in the Gulf of Mexico than to a more general model relating the functioning of oyster reefs within the larger ecosystems (e.g., Soniat and Brody, 1989; Coen and Bishop, 2015). Also, some models have been developed for specific estuaries (e.g., the Chesapeake Bay [USACE, 2012]; Louisiana diversions [Soniat et al., 2013]). They can be generalized for use here, but they typically include many parameters whose data are often unavailable or are too variable to apply throughout a single estuary, let alone the Gulf of Mexico (see Figure II.1, USACE 2012).

Other restoration-relevant uncertainties include differences between U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico estuaries and differences across parameters within the Gulf, for example, in typical temperature and salinity values from Texas (where subtidal reefs dominate) to Florida (where intertidal reefs dominate). However, conducting sensitivity analyses for these and other parameters can reduce some of these uncertainties (Pollack et al., 2012). In the Gulf, age and growth rates, settlement rates and early survival, natural mortality, disease rates, shell loss rates, reef growth and subsidence rates, and fecundity are often uncertain entries in region and population-specific models (e.g., Paynter et al., 2010; Casas et al., 2015). Resolving these uncertainties would inform future site selection and inform the assessment of restoration performance.

Restoration monitoring in the Chesapeake Bay has informed oyster reef restoration techniques. However, uncertainties still hinder effective restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. For example, in some cases, simply restoring natural and historical hydrology to past flow regimes through removal of man-made impediments has been suggested as sufficient for the restoration process. Whether removal of impediments is a reasonable activity to restore oyster populations will have to be evaluated long-term under the same conditions proposed for typical restoration efforts (Craig et al., 2010; Milbrandt et al., 2015).

PROJECT-LEVEL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT PLAN CONSIDERATIONS

Recently, Baggett et al. (2014, 2015) and others (e.g., OMW, 2011; USACE, 2012; Coen and Humphries, 2016) have compiled relatively thorough handbooks on oyster restoration monitoring, including specific recommendations for the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. These handbooks build upon earlier efforts (e.g., Coen et al., 2004; Thayer et al., 2005; Leonard and Macfarlane, 2011) and understanding of restoration for the West Coast Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida (e.g., Peter-Contesse and Peabody, 2005; Wasson et al., 2014).

Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×
Image
FIGURE II.1 Conceptual model for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay. SOURCE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2012. http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/OysterRestoration/OysterMasterPlan.aspx.

Monitoring Purpose and Project Objectives

One of the most important messages for any restoration and related monitoring efforts is the critical nature of developing objectives and related metrics a priori, and for the objectives to be explicitly followed for the various purposes of restoration monitoring. As defined in Part I of this report, the three primary purposes include the following: monitoring (1) to assure projects are built and are initially functioning as designed (construction monitoring); (2) to assess whether restoration goals and objectives have been or are being met (performance monitoring); and (3) to inform restoration management and to improve the design of future restoration efforts (monitoring for adaptive management). For performance monitoring and monitoring for adaptive management, it is good practice for all of the critical protocols to be documented as standard operating procedures and followed to the letter without changes. This protocol helps ensure that any observed changes are not the result of personnel changes or procedures, and thus facilitates comparison of results across projects and programs.

In addition to identifying the restoration objectives, the project needs to clearly identify the purpose of the monitoring effort (i.e., what questions the monitoring effort is to address). Without the stated objectives, the ability to effectively compare monitoring results and to assess progress toward oyster restoration objectives is significantly hampered (see Chapters 4 and 5; Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Coen et al., 2004; Thayer et al., 2005; Kennedy et al., 2011; Baggett et al., 2014; La Peyre et al., 2014). Restoration project objectives need to be assessed against pre-determined targets and carefully selected and associated metrics (see Table II.1) using rigorous experimental designs (replication, independence, etc., see Chapter 3) and appropriate data management techniques (see Chapter 4). As part of the above, when possible, designs need to include: (1) baseline sampling of the proposed construction site(s) and historical datasets where available (termed “pre-construction” in Table II.1), along with (2) appropriate control and/or reference sites to compare with restoration site(s) progress (see Chapter 3; Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Coen et al., 2004; Kennedy et al., 2011; Baggett et al., 2014).

Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

Choose Suitable Metrics

Metrics and their corresponding targets to assess restoration success for both performance monitoring and monitoring for adaptive management, in conjunction with a project’s proposed objective(s), are used to assess how a given oyster reef restoration project performs on initially short- and then longer-term timescales. For projects directed at restoring intertidal or subtidal Gulf of Mexico oyster reefs, it has been suggested that projects should at a minimum sample a limited suite of universal metrics that are used to assess reef, oyster, and environmental conditions as well as a project’s performance regardless of its objective(s) (see below and Table II.1). Using an identical or nearly identical set of minimum, universal metrics and sampling protocols to assess different projects allows comparison among (a) projects in a limited area (within a program or a given area), (b) a larger spatial area, for example within the Gulf of Mexico, or (c) ocean basins (e.g., the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean), given the extensive range and conditions the eastern oyster occupies. Such universal metrics are summarized by Baggett et al. (2014, 2015), included in Table II.1, and described below.

Standardizing monitoring metrics and protocols are also critical to assess the extent to which restoration targets have been achieved, to promote learning and to improve restoration efforts (e.g., Kennedy et al., 2011; OMW, 2011; Baggett et al., 2014; La Peyre et al., 2014; Powers and Boyer, 2014). To illustrate this point, few restoration monitoring efforts in the Chesapeake Bay reported by Kennedy et al. (2011) employed good sampling designs, replication, and quantitative metrics (see Chapter 3); but even when studies were diligent in these aspects, the different methods of data collection (e.g., oyster recruitment and status measurements differing between states) made it impossible to adequately assess changes in oyster populations on constructed reefs. Understanding which metrics have high inherent variability is also important for reliable comparison within and across projects. Monitoring for adaptive management can incorporate this factor to improve resource (habitat) management by assessing restoration progress with a pre-determined recruitment target (see Chapter 7). For example, substantial spatial and temporal variability exist in oyster recruitment rates (e.g., Austin et al., 1996; Bartol and Mann, 1999; Harding et al., 2012; Baggett et al. 2014, Coen and Humphries, 2016). Planning restoration actions (e.g., planting shell as a recruitment substrate; see Box 1.2) before recruitment, and comparing oyster densities after multiple recruitment seasons to a target value will indicate whether additional restoration actions through monitoring and adaptive management (e.g., transplanting live oysters) are required. In many cases, a minimum set of metrics will be necessary, but not sufficient to track progress towards restoration objectives. Additional metrics need to be added to ensure progress is being made towards all objectives. For example, many researchers and managers are using objectives tied to specific ecosystem services derived from oyster restoration efforts to guide the choice of monitoring metrics (Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Peterson et al., 2003; NRC, 2004; Coen et al., 2004; Grabowski et al., 2007, 2012; Pollack et al., 2013; zu Ermgassen et al., 2013a, 2013b). Baggett et al. (2014, 2015) refer to these performance monitoring metrics as “goal-based objective metrics,” which serve to tie the objectives, design, and related sampling to one or more specific ecosystem services. For a given project, one or more restoration objectives are proposed a priori, and then explicitly evaluated as part of the restoration effort. Additional ancillary metrics were also presented by Baggett et al. (2014) and cited publications therein are included here (see Table II.1) to suggest a few additional metrics for monitoring across projects at the program scale.

Universal, Minimum Metrics for All Oyster Restoration Activities

Regardless of project objective(s), a minimum set of parameters that should be sampled includes monitoring: (a) reef physical attributes; (b) oyster population attributes; and (c) a series of critical environmental parameters at intervals that are relevant given the spatial and temporal variability of estuarine systems (for example, see any of the National Estuarine Research Reserve’s System-wide Monitoring Program water quality and atmospheric data1).

(a) Reef Physical Attributes: A great deal of information is presented in Table II.1 to guide sampling parameters, frequency, timing, etc. for each monitoring purpose. Data gathered prior to reef construction can come from the pre-construction site and/or reference and control sites, and can possibly include historical fisheries

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1 National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Centralized Data Management Office information: http://cdmo.baruch.sc.edu/data/parameters.cfm.

Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

dependent or independent sampling data (Beck et al., 2011; zu Ermgassen et al., 2012). Briefly, for either reference or control reefs, or for newly constructed reefs immediately after material is deployed and through time, the most important parameters are reef habitat attributes and status. These include (i) reef footprint expansion (through initial spreading, resulting in decreased reef height) prior to reef material adhesion or growth, or contraction (via subsidence and material loss); and (ii) change in vertical relief (rugosity) of material above the substrate through time.

(b) Oyster population attributes: The most important metrics based on replicate sampling typically include (i) assessment of overall live (or dead) oyster size-frequencies; and (ii) mean density of live (or dead) oysters through time (Baggett et al., 2014, 2015). It is critical that monitoring for restoration projects with objectives that are not fisheries-related not rely on objective-inappropriate fisheries-employed metrics, such as the density of legal-sized oysters (e.g., Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Luckenbach et al., 2005). Too often restoration projects whose focus is on other non-extractive services have been judged as to their success or failure inappropriately by using fishery metrics. For some restoration efforts (e.g., Chesapeake Bay), a mix of the above metrics (including specific density of large oysters) and long-term datasets have been employed to judge success (e.g., OMW, 2011).

In addition to natural recruitment, restoration can also include amendments of live oysters from hatcheries, including seeding with larvae (“spat”) or juveniles (for larger scales, see Southworth and Mann, 1998; Schulte et al., 2009). This is especially helpful when: the natural recruitment rate is low or variable both spatially and temporally (e.g., Roegner and Mann, 1995; Brumbaugh and Coen, 2009; Soniat et al., 2012; Baggett et al., 2014; Coen and Humphries, 2016), one wants to “jump start” reef restoration efforts (e.g., in the Chesapeake Bay or Hudson River estuary), sufficient funding is available, or time constraints favor these methods (e.g., Carbotte et al., 2004; Brumbaugh and Coen, 2009; Southworth et al., 2010; Levinton and Waldman, 2011; Starke et al., 2011; Baggett et al., 2014; Powers and Boyer, 2014). See Table II.1 and appropriate citations (Coen et al., 2004; Thayer et al., 2005; Powers et al., 2009; OMW, 2011; Baggett et al., 2014; Powers and Boyer, 2014; Coen and Bishop, 2015; Walles et al., 2015a,b; Coen and Humphries, 2016; and references therein) for many additional parameters that would be necessary depending on, for example, variance from average disease levels, additive recruitment densities, predator and competitor densities, fouling, sedimentation rates, or substrate losses.

(c) Critical Environmental Parameters: Basic environmental metrics minimally include (i) temperature, which can be inexpensively logged near continuously, (ii) salinity, and (iii) dissolved oxygen, especially for deeper subtidal oyster reefs (see Table II.1). Good practice is for environmental metrics to be sampled at realistic frequencies that are both biologically and environmentally relevant. This means typically sampling at a much higher frequency than the above biological and reef characteristics, regardless of project objective(s) (Coen et al., 2004; Baggett et al., 2014). It is essential that these parameters be assessed at frequencies that are appropriate given their significant variability with rainfall, tides, and other weather events (Coen et al., 1999a; Van Dolah et al., 1999; Ringwood and Keppler, 2002; Coen and Bishop, 2015).

Sustained long-term measurements are critical to our understanding of short- and long-term changes in estuarine and marine environments, especially given climate change and related impacts to oysters and other organisms (Waldbusser and Salsbury, 2014; Coen and Bishop, 2015; Ekstrom et al., 2015). During an initial monitoring period (often 1-2 years or longer), oyster densities and mean sizes ought to result in statistically greater mean densities of oyster or other filter feeding taxa (e.g., mussels), or other target species or functional groups on restored reef(s) through time as compared to pre-construction numbers. They ought to also show progress toward convergence with reference site and divergence from control site values. Successful oyster reef restoration has shown long-term continuation of these trends for a decade (for example, see Box 1.2).

In the past, sampling often only occurred during daylight hours, on weekdays, in suitable weather, and/or at a frequency that might only be monthly. To gather data during variable or atypical events, one needs to sample using newer methods and equipment. Synoptic sampling of these factors monthly is simply not sufficient to assess their effects on oysters, associated communities, and overall ecosystems. Reporting accessible data in near real-time allows for appropriate response times to assess events soon after they occur (e.g., the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System2 or Sanibel-Captiva

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2 Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System: http://gcoos.tamu.edu.

Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

Table II.1 Metrics Considered Good Practice to Monitor Oyster Reef Restoration Activities for Construction, Performance Toward Project Objectives, and Program-Level or Large-Scale Assessments.

Monitoring Purpose
Pre-Construction Post-Construction Performance Program-level
Potential Monitoring Metrics Examples Examples Examples Universal
Habitat

Reef areal dimensions (footprint)

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Summed area of patches of living/non-living shell

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Reef height(s) (vertical relief off bottom)

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Percent cover of bottom by a given reef substrate

#1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Reef rugosity (finerscale micro-relief)

#1, #2 #1, #2 #1, #2

Performance of material(s) employed

#1, #2, #3, #4
Geomorphology/Hydrology

Watertemperature

#1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Salinity

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Dissolved oxygen

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 S

Air temperature at exposure

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3, #4

Duration of exposure

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3, #4

Dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus

#1, #3 #3

pH

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4

Shoreline loss/gain

#4 #2

Shoreline profile/elevation change

#4 #2

Water transparency at submergence

#3 #3

Light attenuation

#3 #3

Typical wave energy regime

#1, #2, #3, #4 #4 #2, #3, #4

Range of shearforce at sediment surface

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4

Vertically-integrated water column current velocity through tidal cycle

#1, #2, #3 #2, #4

Level of toxins related to microalgal blooms (before and during blooms)

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3
Soils/sediments

Soil geomorphology

#4 #2, #3

Soil/sediment organic content

#4 #1, #2, #3

Soil/sediment grain size

#2, #4 #2, #3

Sedimentation rate

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3

Subsidence rate of reef

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4

Sediment accumulation or change by vegetation (emergent orsubmerged)

#2,#3 #2,#3

Upstream land use

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3
Adjacent Habitats

Soil geomorphology

#4 #4

Density and percent cover of emergent plants

#4 #4

Density and percent cover of submerged aquatic vegetation

#3, #4 #3, #4

Species, composition, percent cover of associated plants/algae on or adjacent to reefs

#2, #4 #2, #4
Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×
Monitoring Purpose
Pre-Construction Post-Construction Performance Program-level
Potential Monitoring Metrics Examples Examples Examples Universal
Oyster Population Attributes

Oyster density (annually)

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Size-frequency distribution (annually)

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Disease prevalence and intensity

#1 #1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3 1, S

Oyster condition index

#1 #1 1, S

Gonad development status

#1 1, S

Oyster sex ratio

#1 1, S

Shell biovolume, above-sediment hard substrate

#1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Adult oysters

#1,#3 #1

Nearby reefs with large oysters

#1 #1 #1

Nearby oyster reefs with recruits

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3 #1

Nearby reef size-frequency distributions

#1, #2, #3 #1 #1

Oyster biomass

#1,#3 #1,#3

Oyster post-recruitment survival

#1 #1,#3

Oyster growth

#1 #1,#3

Recruitment success

#1 #1,#3

Mortality rates

#1 #1
Associated Fauna/Flora

Presence of predatory/pest/competitive species

#1, #2, #3 #1, #2, #3, #4 1, S

Numbers and density of suite of selected species and/or faunal groups

#2

Resident species composition, abundance

#2

Transient species composition, abundance, density

#2

Bird species composition, abundance, density

#2 #2

Non-native species composition, abundance

#1, #2 #1, #2, #3
Ecosystem Services

Commercial oyster landings/revenue/employment

#1

Commercial fishery closure frequency

#1

Fishery market value

#1 #1

Recreational oyster harvest rate at site

#1

Secondary production from restored reefs

#2 #2

Filtering capacity (chlorophyll o/seston concentration), sediment resuspension/erosion

#3 #3

Microalgal concentrations at sites around reefs

#3

Beach closure frequency near site

#3

Public perception of water quality/clarity near site

Public willingness to pay for oyster restoration

Shoreline protection, erosion, adjacent vegitation

#4 #4

Construction of shoreline armoring and other unnatural erosion prevention measures

Nearshore wave height at site (moderate storms)

#4

Wave attenuation by restored intertidal reef(s)

#4

Coastal erosion rate

#4

Value of adjacent coastal property damage from moderate storm events

Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

NOTES TO TABLE II.1: Examples are provided to illustrate linkages between restoration situations/objectives and appropriate metrics to assess progress. Example #1 (linkages shown in the table by “#1”) is to restore brood stock and enhance oyster population(s); Example #2 is to enhance habitat for other (non-oyster) species and adjacent habitats; Example #3 is to improve water clarity; and Example #4 is to protect adjacent habitat / living shoreline. Pre-construction denotes sampling to occur before restoration at proposed site(s) and control/reference site(s). Post-construction sampling should occur immediately after restoration to ensure site specifications. Metrics relevant for intertidal (I) and subtidal (S) oyster restoration are suggested by the committee as appropriate to sample across multiple projects at a program, region, or Gulf-wide scale.
SOURCES: Lenihan et al., 1996, 1999; Lenihan and Peterson, 1998; Lenihan, 1999; Coen et al., 1999a,b, 2004, 2007; Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; La Peyre et al., 2003; Luckenbach et al., 2005; Piazza et al., 2005; Plunket and La Peyre, 2005; Brumbaugh et al., 2006, Brumbaugh and Coen, 2009; Plutchak et al., 2010; Piehler and Smyth, 2011; zu Ermgassen et al., 2012, 2013, 2016; Baggett, et al., 2014; Carroll et al., 2015; Coen and Bishop, 2015; Walles et al., 2015a,b, 2016a,b; Coen and Humphries, 2016; Margiotta et al., 2016.

Conservation Foundation’s River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network 1; see Chapter 4).

Habitat context can be quite different for intertidal and subtidal reef habitats (e.g., Grabowski et al., 2005; Byers et al., 2015; Coen and Bishop, 2015; Coen and Grizzle, 2016; Smyth et al., 2016) and need to be considered even in design of minimum metric selection. For example, effects on landward vegetated habitats (or living shorelines, as they are sometimes called) from oyster restoration, are typically derived from reefs or material that is near (either shallow subtidal or intertidal) or abutting marsh or mangrove shorelines. Deeper, subtidal reefs typically cannot protect or reduce shoreline erosion (Coen et al., 2007; Coen and Humphries, 2016). This context-dependent reef habitat function needs to be understood when discussing potential impacts (K. Arkema, personal communication, also see Arkema et al., 2013 for this type of misperception). Similarly, as mentioned in Table II.1, low levels of dissolved oxygen is typically less of a concern for intertidal oysters than for subtidal oysters, but time of exposure and intertidal temperatures at exposures are important for intertidal oysters. Disease in C. virginica also appears to have different responses in the context of high temperatures and salinities for intertidal oysters than for those living in subtidal environments (Coen and Bishop, 2015, and references therein).

Sampling Design and Protocols

Good monitoring practices typically include sampling protocols and methodology that have been successfully used before and are agreed to be effective (Baggett et al., 2014), unless a project seeks to explore novel or more cost-effective options, along with validated methods. Primarily, it is critical for sampling methods to ultimately be comparable across projects, states, programs, etc. Every state along the east coast of the U.S. or the Gulf of Mexico has used very different methods (and even measurements of bushel sizes) to assess oyster reefs (NRC, 2004; ASMFC, 2007; Keiner, 2010). For example, practitioners use any number of SCUBA diving techniques, dredges, patent tongs, or simply sample by walking along shorelines where intertidal oysters grow. Using different techniques will make it more difficult to

Some restoration practitioners have suggested collecting at least 1 year (or through a given recruitment season) of pre-construction data, but this is often not possible and/or there is no applicable historical baseline (e.g., Coen et al., 1999a; Cranfield et al., 1999; Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Coen et al., 2004; Beck et al., 2011; zu Ermgassen et al., 2012; Alleway and Connell, 2015). Paired natural (referred to as reference) sites can be used to assess trajectories of constructed oyster reefs through time (NRC, 1992; Coen et al., 1999a; Coen and Luckenbach, 2000; Baggett et al., 2014, 2015). This practice will greatly assist in the interpretation of restoration efforts early in reef development in terms of poor or atypical recruitment season(s) versus attributes related to a given constructed site or single effort.

REFERENCES

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Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Page 134
Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Page 135
Suggested Citation:"Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Page 136
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Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico Get This Book
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Gulf Coast communities and natural resources suffered extensive direct and indirect damage as a result of the largest accidental oil spill in US history, referred to as the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. Notably, natural resources affected by this major spill include wetlands, coastal beaches and barrier islands, coastal and marine wildlife, seagrass beds, oyster reefs, commercial fisheries, deep benthos, and coral reefs, among other habitats and species. Losses include an estimated 20% reduction in commercial fishery landings across the Gulf of Mexico and damage to as much as 1,100 linear miles of coastal salt marsh wetlands.

This historic spill is being followed by a restoration effort unparalleled in complexity and magnitude in U.S. history. Legal settlements in the wake of DWH led to the establishment of a set of programs tasked with administering and supporting DWH-related restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. In order to ensure that restoration goals are met and money is well spent, restoration monitoring and evaluation should be an integral part of those programs. However, evaluations of past restoration efforts have shown that monitoring is often inadequate or even absent.

Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico identifies best practices for monitoring and evaluating restoration activities to improve the performance of restoration programs and increase the effectiveness and longevity of restoration projects. This report provides general guidance for restoration monitoring, assessment, and synthesis that can be applied to most ecological restoration supported by these major programs given their similarities in restoration goals. It also offers specific guidance for a subset of habitats and taxa to be restored in the Gulf including oyster reefs, tidal wetlands, and seagrass habitats, as well as a variety of birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.

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