The Mississippi Sound Oyster: A Small Animal with a Big Problem

EarthzineDevelop Summer 2017, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

This article is a part of the NASA DEVELOP’s Summer 2017 Virtual Poster Session. For more articles like these, click here

Project Team: Mississippi Sound Water Resources II

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center ‰ÛÒ Hampton, Virginia

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Authors:

Carter Grimm

Rachael Green

Hannah Russ

Mentors/Advisors:

Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)

Ben Holt (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Dr. Severine Fournier (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Past or Other Contributors:

Emily Gotschalk

Brigitte Moneymaker

Katherine Cavanaugh

Catherine Stolfi

Erika Higa

Jessica Gregory

Landsat 8 image processed in SeaDAS showing an influx of suspended material following a high rain event. Image Credit: Mississippi Sound Water Resources II Team

Abstract:

Oysters are vital to the environmental health of the Mississippi Sound and a critical part of Mississippi‰Ûªs economy. Environmental disturbances, such as Hurricane Katrina, major flooding events, and the Bonnet CarrÌ© spillway openings, have caused oyster populations to decline and have negatively affected the water quality and economy of the Sound. Oysters purify water via filter feeding and a decline in their population could lead to increased levels of dissolved solids in the waterways. In collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR), the team focused on specific case studies of significant disturbances by combining data gathered in the Spring 2017 Term with data on the degradation of marshlands in the area. The team investigated the relationships between extreme weather events, salinity, freshwater discharge and diversion, chlorophyll-a, and oyster reef health. These case studies will help inform MDMR about how these factors are interdependent and impact the overall health of the Sound. This information will assist the MDMR in making better-informed decisions in preparing for and managing ecological stressors.

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