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.

Atlantic Surf Clam (Spisula solidissima)
  • Stock assessment - Both surf clams and ocean quahogs support major offshore fisheries.Cutting shell for age determination

  • 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.