Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Plos One





First Page



Oyster reef restoration can significantly increase benthic denitrification rates. Methods applied to measure nutrient fluxes and denitrification from oyster reefs in previous studies include incubations of sediment cores collected adjacent to oyster clumps, benthic chambers filled with intact reef segments that have undergone in situ equilibration and ex situ incubation, and cores with single oysters. However, fluxes of nutrients vary by orders of magnitude among oyster reefs and methods. This study compares two methods of measuring nutrient and metabolic fluxes on restored oyster reefs: incubations including intact segments of oyster reef and incubations containing oyster clumps without underlying sediments. Fluxes of oxygen (O-2), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), ammonium (NH4+), combined nitrate and nitrite (NO2/3-), di-nitrogen (N-2), and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) were determined in June and August in Harris Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, USA. Regression of fluxes measured from clumps alone against those measured from intact reef segments showed significant positive relationships for O-2, DIC, NH4+, and SRP (R-2 = 0.920, 0.61, 0.26, and 0.52, respectively). Regression of clump fluxes against the oyster tissue biomass indicates significant positive relationships for O-2 and NH4+, marginally significant and positive relationships for DIC and N-2, and no significant relationship for NO2/3- or SRP. Although these results demonstrate that the incubation of oyster clumps without underlying sediments does not accurately represent biogeochemical fluxes measured from the whole oyster and sediment community, this work supports the need to understand the balance between the metabolism of oysters and local sediments to correctly estimate biogeochemical rates.




Chesapeake Bay; Denitrification; Eutrophication; Nitrification; Removal; Nitrate; Water; Biodeposition; Ecosystems; Hypoxia