Historical ecology of oysters - 2013

A research effort produced by the Spring 2013 Graduate-level Marine Invertebrate Zoology Course (College of Charleston) 
Students: Alyssa Demko, Becca Derex, Nicole Kollars, and Meredith Smylie 


Atlantic eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, are both ecologically and economically important. In South Carolina, oysters have been harvested for several thousand years and continue to be harvested today, albeit in much smaller amounts. The reduction in harvest however, is not a result of consumer demand but rather due to the decline in oyster populations along the east coast. The current study examines changes in oyster populations from Charleston, S.C. via morphometric analyses. Historic oyster samples were provided from the Charleston Museum from two locations: the former Beef Market (1739-1796) and the Stono Plantation/ Dill’s Bluff (2000 years ago and 1700-1800). Modern samples were gathered in February 2013 from the Stono River, measured, and compared to historic samples. Results indicate that oysters today show reduction in valve length and depth, but an increase in shell height when compared to historic samples. Despite the limited knowledge on the true baseline for oysters in Charleston, S.C., it is clear that oyster populations are reduced and current populations exhibit morphological differences. What has caused this decline in populations and altered oyster size unfortunately, remains unknown.

See below for a PDF document presenting the results from analyses of the Beef Market samples.  The "Background", "Methods and Approach", and "Results" tabs present information and data from the Stono/Dill Sanctuary location.  

Meredith Smylie,
Apr 28, 2013, 6:10 PM