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ABSI Research Initiatives

Research conducted by ABSI and partners includes rigorous field components, analytical studies in the lab, and field and laboratory experiments. The data from these different components are used in models to help forecast how oysters are likely to respond to a suite of different environmental and management conditions.

Collapse of oyster reef systems is a global phenomenon, with less than 20% of the world’s reefs remaining (read more about this in  Beck et. al. 2011). The causes are complex, and include interactions of poor coastal management, over-harvesting, habitat destruction, and poor water quality. Before we can generate effective restoration and management plans, we have to understand what went wrong, and try to address the underlying problem.

Ecosystem recovery is limited by nature’s ability to rebuild. Depending on the system, it may take decades.  While oysters grow quickly, the  massive reefs that they form develop slowly. Because oyster reef ecosystems provide valuable ecological and economic services, we need to protect and care for them so they can continue to provide these services far into the future. If we do not, we risk losing them forever.

Successful ecosystem recovery requires a deep understanding of the causes of collapse. This is accomplished with extensive research and monitoring, and a long term plan that includes adaptive management and habitat restoration. ABSI data will be made available to the public, and through a collaborative process, an oyster management and ecosystem recovery plan will be developed. See the full ABSI proposal here

Oyster Analysis & Restoration Experiments

Researchers survey oyster reefs, evaluate the health & condition of individual oysters, & learn what environmental pressures affect them most.

Oyster Reproduction & Larval Rearing

Producing larvae on site for use in laboratory and field experiments related to restoration is a key research objective of the ABS initiative. 

Historical & Current Maps of the System

Building models using oyster habitat map data helps identify the primary causes of habitat change over time, whether natural or human induced. 

Biophysical & Socioecological Models

Building water flow models that characterize river to bay flow and bay and Gulf exchange, & an oyster model to inform water management & restoration.

Oyster Restoration Database

In partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts, ABSI has created an inventory of oyster restoration and related projects funded through the Deepwater Horizon settlement. This inventory is intended to serve as a foundation from which to develop guidance for future restoration projects to maximize their effectiveness.