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Layer: Oyster Habitat Suitability (ID: 3)

Name: Oyster Habitat Suitability

Display Field: OystHabSui

Type: Feature Layer

Geometry Type: esriGeometryPolygon

Description: Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Habitat Restoration Suitability — A Subaqueous Soil Interpretation The Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is native to the eastern seaboard from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada, south to the Gulf of Mexico coast of North America. Often concentrated on oyster bars, beds, or rocks, which are located in waterways with firm bottom areas, oysters attach to one another forming dense reefs that provide habitat for many fish and invertebrates. Like all oysters, the Eastern oyster is a filter feeder. They draw in water and filter out plankton and detritus to digest, then discharge unwanted food items and particulate matter, thus cleaning the water around them. One oyster can filter more than 50 gallons of water in 24 hours. Oyster beds have an estimated 50 times the surface area of an equally sized flat bottom and attract a high concentration of larger predators looking for food (Eastern Oyster, 2016). Oysters are considered a keystone species in most estuaries along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Grabowski and Peterson (2007) recognized seven ecosystem services provided by Crassostrea virginica habitats. They are: (1) oyster production; (2) water filtration and concentration of pseudofeces; (3) provision of habitat for epibenthic invertebrates; (4) nutrient sequestration; (5) augmented fish production; (6) stabilization of adjacent habitats and shoreline; and (7) diversification of the landscape and ecosystem. Despite their significance, oyster reefs are one of the most threatened marine habitats on earth. In the last decade, many people have come to support oyster restoration efforts for the purposes of conservation and provision of ecosystem services. Construction of oyster reefs is supported as an avenue for protecting biodiversity, regulating nutrients in estuaries through water filtration, protecting shorelines from erosion, and providing habitat for many estuarine species. This soil interpretation is intended to help identify sites with appropriate soil (substrate) types for targeted oyster habitat restoration. Soil Rating Classes: High Suitability: Soils in this rating class have a high potential for successful oyster restoration because they have the best soil properties or characteristics for a successful establishment of an oyster reef. Moderate Suitability: Soils in this rating class have a moderate potential for successful oyster restoration due to one or more limiting soil properties or characteristics such as soil texture or electrical conductivity. Low Suitability: Soils in this rating class have a low potential for successful oyster restoration due to multiple limiting soil properties or characteristics. Not Suitable: Soils in this rating class are not suitable for oyster restoration because they are freshwater subaqueous soils that lack the appropriate salinity levels necessary to establish and grow oysters. Not Rated: These soils or miscellaneous areas are not subaqueous soils; therefore, they are not rated as this soil interpretation should only take into consideration subaqueous and submerged soils. References Eastern Oyster. http://www.ereferencedesk.com/resources/state-gemstone/louisiana-gemstone.html (accessed May 2016). Grabowski, J.H., and C.H. Peterson. 2007. Restoring oyster reefs to recover ecosystem services. In: Cuddington, K., J.E. Byers, W.G. Wilson, and A. Hastings (editors). Ecosystem Engineers: concepts, theory and applications. Elsevier- Academic Press, Amsterdam. p. 281-298.

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