Monday, February 22, 2016

UNO Biologist Gets Federal Grant for Sustainable Oyster Harvest Research

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A University of New Orleans researcher has been awarded a two-year $40,000 grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund a project on sustainable oyster harvests. Thomas Soniat, a professor of research in the biological sciences department, will analyze data on oyster growth and natural mortality.

“Oyster management in Louisiana has a successful history of sustainability and conservation, which has been recently bolstered by the development of the Sustainable Oyster Shellstock model,” Soniat said. “This model serves to advise commercial harvest levels while conserving oyster habitat through maintenance of the underlying reef.”

According to Soniat, the modeling approach to oyster harvest management relies on gathering information, some of which comes from quantitative sampling and some of which is based on general assumptions. As part of this project, researchers will review and analyze existing data from the local oyster population so that all of the oyster growth and mortality data is up-to-date. The numerical model is used to estimate sustainable oyster harvest levels.

The research is a collaboration of the Canizaro Livingston Gulf States Center for Environmental Informatics at UNO, LSU and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.