Date of Award

Winter 12-8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Chair

Chester Rakocinski

Committee Chair Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kevin Dillon

Committee Member 2 Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert Leaf

Committee Member 3 Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Member 4

Dr. Read Hendon

Committee Member 4 Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Member 5

Dr. Megan LaPeyre

Abstract

Natural and anthropogenic changes resulting from altered hydrology, hurricanes, variable precipitation, and the BP oil spill have all taken their toll on oyster reefs in Mississippi. In response, oyster reef restoration efforts are currently underway within the Northern Gulf of Mexico. In order to understand why these efforts succeed or fail, it is crucial to consider predator-prey relationships within the context of the trophic dynamics of oyster reefs. Thus, for this dissertation study I integrated a multidisciplinary approach to understanding key trophic interactions affecting oyster recruitment, growth and survival, comprising field sampling, manipulative lab experiments, and individual-based modeling. Spat settlement density and abundances of key members of the trophic web were quantified at twelve oyster reef sites over the course of seven months. Peak spat settlement at each reef occurred in September, with Linear Mixed Model analyses indicating a significant difference between mean spat settlement per day between reef types (F = 29.229, p

ORCID ID

orcid.org/0000-0003-3370-1180