Today, our System-Wide Monitoring Program technician and NERRd, Silas Tanner, graduates from the University of North Florida. He recently finished up a project he started last summer investigating the impacts of oyster harvesting on shell availability for larval settlement. There is concern about the sustainability of the oyster fishery given that harvesting practices remove shell indefinitely, leaving less and less each year for larvae to settle on.
He found the effect of harvesting was regionally-specific. There was significantly more shell available for larval settlement on non-harvested reefs compared to harvested reefs in the Salt Run region of the Matanzas River, which experiences the most harvest pressure in St. Johns County. In the harvest area further south in the Matanzas River, where harvesting pressure is not as strong, a significant difference in shell availability was not observed.
Silas received University of North Florida undergraduate course credits for his work by completing the field component as a Directed Individual Studies course and the data analysis, paper, and presentation in a Senior Seminar course. He hopes to publish this research in Journal of Shellfish Research. Congratulations, Silas, on earning your B.S. degree and conducting a solid, independent research project!