Core Research Program

In 2017, MBRACE awarded four complimentary two-year projects through the Core Research Program to investigate factors influencing oyster reefs and their sustainability. The four projects, which are funded at $625,000 each, conclude in December 2019.

 Biosensors for the Measurement of Bivalve Valve Movement

Jackson State University

Principal Investigators: Kamal Ali (Lead), Francis Tuluri, Hui-Ru Shih, Ramzi Kafoury, Sudha Yerramilli

Abstract: The Jackson State University team will make use of the advances in electronic and computer technology to develop and build a sensor system that can remotely measure and record the valve movement of bivalves. This system will be used in Mississippi Gulf oyster reefs to continuously measure and report the valve gaping of oysters. This data, together with data from the other University partners, may be used to better assess the health of oyster reefs. 

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Water Quality and Benthic Habitat Observations for Enhanced Understanding and Sustainable Management of Oyster Reefs in Mississippi Sound

Mississippi State University

Principal Investigators: Robert Moorhead (Lead), Padmanava Dash, Adam Skarke

Abstract: This project will use field sampling and remote sensing data collected from traditional platforms as well as novel autonomous aerial and marine vehicles to quantify the spatiotemporal variability of water quality and benthic habitat conditions at oyster reef sites in Mississippi Sound. Specifically,  we will: (1) Develop robust predictive algorithms to relate in situ water  quality parameters at oyster reefs in Mississippi Sound  to remotely sensed reflectance data collected with satellites and unmanned aerial systems, (2) create benthic habitats maps of seabed sedimentary characteristics proximal to oyster reefs in Mississippi Sound through the collection and synthesis of physical samples and acoustic reflectivity data, and (3) evaluate geologic controls on the  location of submarine groundwater discharge and resulting modification of water quality parameters proximal to oyster reefs in Mississippi Sound  through the collection and synthesis of seismic and isotopic tracer data.


Abiotic and Biotic Influences on Current and Historic Distributions of Oyster Reefs

The University of Mississippi

Principal Investigators: Marc Slattery (Lead), Greg Easson, Deborah Gochfeld, Stephanie Showalter, Kristie Willett

Abstract: The goal of this project is to identify differences in abiotic and biotic stressors at current and historic oyster reef sites, to better understand oyster reef health and to inform management regarding the best places and practices to improve oyster reef restoration strategies. To address this goal, The University of Mississippi researchers will undertake three interdisciplinary objectives. They will: 1) develop and deploy replicate Oyster Sensor Platforms to current and historic oyster reefs, 2) characterize the biochemical and physiological responses of oysters to natural and anthropogenic stressors at these sites, and 3) assess the ecological and environmental impacts of stress on oyster reefs.


Sustainability and Restoration of Oyster Reef Habitat in Mississippi Sound: A Larval Transport and Recruitment Approach

The University of Southern Mississippi

Principal Investigators: Jeremy D. Wiggert (Lead), Ken Barbor, Mustafa Kemal Cambazoglu, Arne Diercks, Stephan Howden, Scott Milroy, Chet Rakocinski

Abstract: The four Mississippi Sound-based project components for this project consist of: 1) an investigation of oyster recruitment that contrasts viability of wild vs. cultured oyster spat at both restored and control reefs; 2) benthic habitat mapping surveys that characterize sub-bottom structure and resolve seasonal evolution of oyster reef volume; 3) CODAR-observed hourly-resolved surface circulation over oyster beds of interest at 1 km resolution; and 4) application of a suite of interlinked models to investigate interactive impacts of hydrodynamic processes and environmental stressors on transport and recruitment of oyster larvae and the overall productivity of oyster beds.