Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Filtration by suspension-feeding bivalves affects water quality and the postulated impacts include increased light penetration and enhanced benthic primary production. Such system-level predictions are extrapolated fiom still water experiments which neglect the effects of flow, seston composition, turbulent mixing and refiltration by oysters within groups. Flume experiments were used to investigate the effects of varying flow speed and seston composition on filtration capacity of oysters. Six groups of 90 oysters were used in treatments which varied concentrations of the algae Ekalassiosira weisj70grgrsie parately and in combination with inorganics; four sets of shell only controls were used to evaluate hydrodynamic effects. The results indicate the importance of morphological differences in bed structure on turbulence and particle redistribution which may obscure biological effects and of the importance of the physiological condition of oysters on filtration capacity. Field transplants of eelgrass, Zostera marina, and American oysters, Crassostrea virgmica, were used to evaluate interactions between oyster filtration, water quality and plant survival in the field. Abnormally poor water quality forced the early termination of these experiments, but in conjunction with the flume results they indicate a strong effect of physical forces on seston distribution against which impacts of suspension feeders must judged.



oysters, suspension-feeding, hydrodynamics, water clarity, submerged aquatic vegetation, Gatlett Islands, flume experiments



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