La Peyre MK, Bernasconi SB, Lavaud R, Casas SM, La Peyre JF. 2019. Eastern oyster clearance and respiration rates in response to acute and chronic exposure to suspended sediment loads. Journal of Sea Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2019.101831
Coastal Louisiana supports some of the most productive areas for the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. Changing conditions from restoration and climate change alter freshwater and sediment inflows into critical estuarine areas affecting water quality, including salinity and concentrations of suspended sediment. This study examined the effects of acute (1 hour) and chronic (8 weeks) exposure of suspended sediment concentrations on the eastern oyster’s respiration and clearance rates. Acute exposure at six sediment concentrations (0, 10, 50, 200, 500, 1000 mg L-1) and one salinity (15) indicated that sediment concentration significantly affected oyster clearance rates, with increasing clearance rates as suspended sediment concentrations increased up to 500 mg L-1. Respiration rates were not affected by sediment concentration (p = 0.12). Chronic exposure at two salinities (6 and 15) and three sediment concentrations (0, 50, 400 mg L-1) found no significant effect of sediment, salinity or their interaction on clearance rates (p > 0.71). Respiration rate was reduced at higher sediment concentrations (50 and 400 mg L-1 versus 0 mg L-1; p=0.0145) and lower salinity (p<0.0001). As clearance and oxygen consumption rates critically inform oyster energetic models, these data provide valuable insight to more accurately predict eastern oyster population dynamics and inform harvest models in the face of changing estuarine conditions. Changes in rates of growth through altered energetic demands ultimately can impact not just the economic viability of the industry, but also the ability for the populations to maintain sustainable reefs.