Ecosystem stability and Native American oyster harvesting along the Atlantic Coast of the United States

Victor D. Thompson, Torben Rick, Carey J. Garland, David Hurst Thomas, Karen Y. Smith, Sarah Bergh, Matt Sanger, Bryan Tucker, Isabelle Lulewicz, Anna M. Semon, John Schalles, Christine Hladik, Clark Alexander, Brandon T. Ritchison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is an important proxy for examining historical trajectories of coastal ecosystems. Measurement of ~40,000 oyster shells from archaeological sites along the Atlantic Coast of the United States provides a long-term record of oyster abundance and size. The data demonstrate increases in oyster size across time and a nonrandom pattern in their distributions across sites. We attribute this variation to processes related to Native American fishing rights and environmental variability. Mean oyster length is correlated with total oyster bed length within foraging radii (5 and 10 km) as mapped in 1889 and 1890. These data demonstrate the stability of oyster reefs despite different population densities and environmental shifts and have implications for oyster reef restoration in an age of global climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaba9652
JournalScience Advances
Volume6
Issue number28
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 8 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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