Taylor Slade

Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Marine Biology BS


Ocean Science and Technology

First Advisor

Chet F. Rakocinski, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


The American oyster, Crassostrea virginica, is a filter feeding bivalve native to the Gulf of Mexico, and an essential part of the Mississippi Sound estuarine ecosystem. In recent years, influx of freshwater into the Mississippi Sound as a result of frequent rainfall events has altered the water chemistry in several ways that are detrimental to the oyster populations. In this thesis, I examine the growth rate of C. virginica over the last five years in association with salinity fluctuations in the Mississippi Sound. Given diminishing populations and limited recruitment, researchers have facilitated citizen-scientist managed oyster gardens along the coast of the state to help restore reefs in the sound. The St. Stanislaus Marine Science Program has managed oyster gardens over the last five years, from which it has been observed that periods of low salinity, often during times of extreme freshwater discharge following severe storms, correlate with limited growth and increased mortality of gardened oysters.