Type of Presentation

Poster

Session Title

From Conversation to Conservation Action: Balancing Endangered Species Protection and Growth on BC's South Coast

Description

The native oyster Ostrea lurida was once very abundant on the west coast of North America, contributing to a long history of indigenous use and a short history of decimation by overfishing during the gold rushes. Since the early 1900s, the species has not managed to recover its historical abundance, and it is of conservation interest in both Canada and the US. However, the Gorge Waterway population of the oysters in the urban core of the Capital Regional District of Southern Vancouver Island, well within the range of exploitation, continues to exist in some of the highest densities recorded amongst extant populations of BC. These include subtidal, shallow-water reefs and intertidal abundances on hard and soft substrates. Five years of study with citizen scientists and NGO researchers has characterized the population, demonstrating strong annual strong recruitment peaks, likely short life spans both intertidally and subtidally, resistance to substantial freshwater exposure, and probably lack of substantial predation. Custom-designed bridge footings were quickly and extensively colonized, but high sediment loads restricted survival of re-located individuals on artificial reefs of Pacific oyster shells. This presentation will present results of annual monitoring of both adults and young recruits, with an assessment of how the population is influenced by the urban environment and its resilience to ongoing stressors. Implications to enhancement of oyster populations in similarly highly turbid estuarine environments is discussed.

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Lessons from Urbanized Native Oysters: tips for restoration

2016SSEC

The native oyster Ostrea lurida was once very abundant on the west coast of North America, contributing to a long history of indigenous use and a short history of decimation by overfishing during the gold rushes. Since the early 1900s, the species has not managed to recover its historical abundance, and it is of conservation interest in both Canada and the US. However, the Gorge Waterway population of the oysters in the urban core of the Capital Regional District of Southern Vancouver Island, well within the range of exploitation, continues to exist in some of the highest densities recorded amongst extant populations of BC. These include subtidal, shallow-water reefs and intertidal abundances on hard and soft substrates. Five years of study with citizen scientists and NGO researchers has characterized the population, demonstrating strong annual strong recruitment peaks, likely short life spans both intertidally and subtidally, resistance to substantial freshwater exposure, and probably lack of substantial predation. Custom-designed bridge footings were quickly and extensively colonized, but high sediment loads restricted survival of re-located individuals on artificial reefs of Pacific oyster shells. This presentation will present results of annual monitoring of both adults and young recruits, with an assessment of how the population is influenced by the urban environment and its resilience to ongoing stressors. Implications to enhancement of oyster populations in similarly highly turbid estuarine environments is discussed.