Melissa Solis, Old Dominion University


Class Year:



Jeremy Testa Ph.D.

Project Title:

Modeling the Effect of Salinity and Chlorophyll on Oyster Growth in the Chesapeake Bay


The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is an important shellfish species in the Chesapeake Bay. Restoration projects have the goal of reviving the population to revive the keystone organism’s ability to filter the water column, create habitat, and provide commercial harvest. Oyster aquaculture is also expanding into diverse regions of the estuary. Numerical models provide a tool to predict how oyster growth is affected by changes in environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, food availability) and identify ideal locations for restoration and aquaculture. I adapted an existing oyster growth model, ShellSIM, to analyze the effect of environmental factors such as salinity and chlorophyll-a concentrations (proxy for food availability) on oyster growth to determine the regions better suited for restoration projects and aquaculture operations. Applications of the model for three-year simulations at 179 locations in Chesapeake Bay showed greatest growth in shell length and tissue weight in the Maryland Coastal Bays, northern mesohaline Bay and in regions of the James and York Rivers. These locations varied in ranges of salinity and had higher chlorophyll-a concentrations compared to the rest of the Bay. While these regions experienced the greatest simulated growth in C. virginica, further analysis will need to be done to quantify the effect of calcium carbonate variability and food quality (not simply quantity) on oyster growth in the Chesapeake Bay.



REU Update

Associate Scientist with Microbac Laboratories, Inc.


The REU students are indicated with an asterisk (*).

The Blue Crab: Callinectes Sapidus

An essential resource for researchers, students, and managers.  Get your copy today!

pile of cooked crabs