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Biology Articles » Ecology » Oysters: The Natural Way To Protect Our Shores

Oysters: The Natural Way To Protect Our Shores

A study published in the latest issue of Restoration Ecology finds thatin coastal Louisiana, oyster reefs help to deter erosion. Oyster reefs are self-sustaining, and are additionally attractive because they usenative materials, have the potential for long-term growth, andcontribute to overall ecosystem stability and quality. Oyster larvaemove in groups and water-borne chemicals stimulate the oysters'settlement; reefs are therefore able to maintain themselves as newrecruits settle and grow.

"Sustainability is an important component to note as maintenancerequirements would likely be reduced on created oyster shell reefs asopposed to other heavier shoreline protection structures (i.e.limestone rock breakwaters) which usually necessitate placement ofadditional material over time to maintain their effectiveness,"authors, Bryan P. Piazza, Patrick D. Banks, and Megan K. La Peyrestate.

The authors evaluated the effectiveness of six experimental shellreefs on both low and high wave energy shorelines in coastal Louisiana.The areas chosen were conducive to oyster habitation, evidenced by theabundance of oyster shells in surrounding waters. Measuring erosionover a year, the authors found that their small, fringing oyster shellreefs were effective in slowing erosion for low wave energy shorelines,though less effective in higher wave energy environments. The authorsconclude that "... the use of small created fringing oyster shell reefshas the potential to provide a useful shoreline stabilization tool tocoastal managers under low energy environments."


Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. August 2005


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