Current Research

Oysters (Crassostrea virginica)

Oysters collected for research

  • Broodstock dynamics, fecundity, egg viability and recruitment processes in trap-type estuaries – several western shore sub-estuaries of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay have modest tidal excursion and topography that dictates limited tidal exchange with the bay main stem. The late Jay D. Andrews described these as “trap-type” estuaries. Understanding the dynamics of oyster populations in these estuaries is critical to their use in both seed production for fishery application and in restoration efforts.
  • Stock assessment - The VIMS oyster Patent Tong survey provides data in support of both management and restoration of Virginia's oyster resource.

  • Ecology of marine invertebrate larvae - Oyster size-age relationships, survivorship, recruitment, fecundity, and metapopulation dynamics in relation to geographic location and local environmental conditions continue to be examined in a variety of projects. 

  • Shell budgets and carbonates in estuarine systems - Oysters reefs form the majority, if not the only vertically structured hard surfaces above the sediment-water interface in the majority of sedimentary estuaries in temperate and subtropical latitudes worldwide.

  • Aquaculture and the environment - Intensive oyster culture in the Chesapeake Bay offers enormous economic growth opportunities, but also poses unusual biological and management challenges.

  • Archaeology - Oysters and the reefs that they created were central to the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay prior to the early 20th century.

Atlantic Surf Clam (Spisula solidissima)
  • Stock assessment - Both surf clams and ocean quahogs support major offshore fisheries

  • Age determination, demography and climate change - Given that biology of both species is temperature sensitive both are useful barometers of climate change impacts on Atlantic shelf dwelling species

  • Interdisciplinary modeling work - This project is focused on understanding how climate forcing affects an exploited benthic dominant species in the mid-Atlantic, the surfclam (Spisula solidissima) and with human components of the system

Invasive Species
  • Invasive Oysters - Oysters have been distributed extensively for fishery enhancement and aquaculture purposes, and while these have contributed to extensive food production the introductions have also changed recipient ecosystems, especially where the introduced species have reproduced and become established as naturalized residents.

  • Rapana - The rapa whelk, Rapana venosa, is a large predatory gastropod native to the Rapana venosa is native to the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, East China Sea and the Bohai Sea.

Climate Change
  • VIMS initiative - Climate is arguably the greatest challenge confronting society today. No component of natural and managed ecosystems is immune to its impact.

  • Presentations - Presentations are on various topics regarding climate change.
  • Testimony - the VIMS community has developed a series of short information papers on climate change following various testimony.

Current Research Grants
  • Current research grants include:
    • A bay-wide approach to oyster stock assessment, estimates of vital rates and disease status.
    • Oyster planting protocols to deter losses to cownose ray predation.