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Oyster Restoration Benefits from Genetic Diversity

Restoring coastal habitats such as oyster reefs is important, because these habitats benefit humans via ecosystem services such as water filtration, but have been degraded by harvesting and other human activities. Before scientists embark on time and funding intensive restoration projects, it is important to identify parameters for success of restored habitats. Thus, MSC Associate Professor Randall Hughes and colleagues have conducted an experiment testing how genetic diversity of juvenile oysters impacts survival in a restored reef. The results of the study have recently been published in the journal Ecological Applications. Hughes and her team found that groups of juvenile oysters with higher genetic diversity, and a more even male to female ratio, had higher chance of survival in the field. The results of this study will help to guide the decisions of conservation and restoration experts as they implement projects to increase populations of these commercially and ecologically important bivalves. Dr. Hughes’ collaborators on this study included MSC Professor Jonathan Grabowski, Associate Professor David Kimbro, and Research Associate Dr. Torrie Hanley, as well as Dr. Michael Piehler of the University of North Carolina, Dr. Jeb Byers of the University of Georgia and Tom McCrudden of Research Aquaculture, Inc.

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