Long-term Monitoring Project 04-1


Establishing Baselines for Monitoring the Response of Oysters in
Southeast Florida to Changes in Freshwater Input
Mark Gambordella, Luke McEachron, Carla Beals & William S. Arnold

Map of Reef Sites
Study Areas within the Loxahatchee River Estuary

Courtesy Gambordella, McEachron, Beals & Arnold


Oyster reefs are more commonly known to occur outside south Florida; however, this project found populations in the Sebastian River, St. Lucie Estuary, Loxahatchee River Estuary, and Lake Worth Lagoon. Live oysters, growing detached from reefs, were also found in Biscayne Bay. Oyster size and population density differed in each area where oysters were found. Oyster reefs were mapped by using a Real-Time Kinematic GPS, which provided an enhanced view of the vertical surface of the reef. Researchers then studied the physical stability of the reefs and impacts caused by pollution and salinity. This project determined that the main threats to south Florida oyster reefs are disease, pollution, increased development and altered freshwater flows to nearshore coastal environments. The Northern Estuaries Model of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan RECOVER monitoring and assessment plan uses the spatial distribution of oysters as an indicator of restoration success.



Report Cover Image

Final Report
(PDF, 130 MB)


Contact the principal investigator directly with questions about this study.

Last updated: May 19, 2022

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