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|Presentation Title||Assessment of the Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Crassostrea virginica Spat and Fouling Organisms in the Maryland Coastal Bays|
|Presenting Author Name||Maddie Farmer|
|Presenting Author Affiliation||University of Maryland Eastern Shore|
|Unit Meeting||Tidewater Chapter|
|General Topic||Maryland Coastal Bays, oyster spat, fouling organisms, settlement|
|Type of Presentation||Oral|
There are numerous oyster restoration initiatives in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, but fewer restoration efforts have occurred in the neighboring Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs). The MCBs are shallow lagoonal estuaries that have small populations of eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica. There is an interest in enhancing the eastern oyster population through an oyster restoration project, but it is not known if and where natural recruitment occurs. In addition, fouling organisms can positively and negatively influence spat settlement, but the distribution of these fouling organisms in the MCBs in relation to oyster recruits is not known. To fill these knowledge gaps, spat and fouling organisms were monitored biweekly from June through August 2019 at 12 sites (six bay and six pier sites) throughout the MCBs using horizontal PVC settlement plates. We assessed the spatial and temporal variation in abundance of spat and the most prevalent fouling organisms, in addition to water quality parameters (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and pH). Peak settlement occurred during the expected time period from late June through July 2019 and spat were most abundant closest to the inlets (Ocean City and Chincoteague Inlets). The data collected may serve as a baseline for future biofouling and spat monitoring studies. In addition, this project provides insight into the spatial and temporal distribution of spat and fouling organisms that can be used to inform stakeholders and support oyster restoration project evaluation in the MCBs.