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Research Seminar: Maxwell Tice-Lewis
March 20 @ 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm
Seminar Title: Determining drivers of oyster reef community dynamics and resilience to freshet disturbance across estuarine gradients.
Abstract: Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are estuarine foundational species ranging from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, which form complex reef habitat for a large diversity of fish and invertebrate fauna. Thus, oysters offer a unique model for evaluating biogenic reef community dynamics and resilience to disturbance over estuarine spatiotemporal gradients in a temperate climate. The research presented here is aimed at two questions: 1. What are the main factors in estuarine systems that drive variation in oyster reef communities? and 2. How resilient are oyster communities to seasonal freshwater inflow disturbances (freshets) across the estuarine salinity gradient? Oyster reef faunal samples and continuous salinity and temperature data were collected over a two-year period at 11 oyster reefs in the Newport and North River estuaries encompassing the salinity gradients of each basin. Both univariate (regression) and multivariate analyses will be utilized to determine the influence of salinity, temperature, tidal regime, and river basin on oyster community diversity and structure. Next, univariate and multivariate analyses will be employed to evaluate the response (resilience) of oysters and oyster associated fauna to freshet perturbations that occurred in late Summer, 2014 and 2015. These findings will aid in our understanding of abiotic gradient and disturbance regime effects on an important ecosystem engineer that has immense ecological and economical value to coastal areas.