On December 12, 2016, The UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) hosted a lecture on oyster reef function research as part of its “Science on the Sound” lecture series. This series, held monthly, highlights research on coastal topics and issues in northeast North Carolina. This month, the program featured Dr. Michael Piehler, UNC CSI Estuarine Ecology and Human Health program head and Associate Professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences. Dr. Piehler’s presentation, entitled “On a Highway to Shell: Assessing Oyster Reef Function Throughout the Southeastern United States”, covered some of his recent research on oyster reefs and the methods used to assess their function.
Oyster reefs are important contributors to the function of coastal ecosystems and also provide tremendous value to people. Examining their function throughout a broad geographic area improves our understanding of the degree to which their function is generalizable. Dr. Piehler and his research program assessed the structure and function of sub-tidal oyster reefs from Cape Hatteras though the Gulf of Mexico. Reef function (impacts on fish communities, nutrient cycling and reef morphology) was found to vary in several ways, including being closely linked to tidal range.
The program was broadcast live on December 12, 2016.