COMPARISONS OF MACROFAUNA ASSEMBLAGES ON RESTORED AND NON-RESTORED OYSTER REEFS IN MESOHALINE REGIONS OF CHESAPEAKE BAY IN MARYLAND

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2008-01-04

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Recently restored oyster sanctuary reefs in Maryland allowed for a unique opportunity to observe the abundance and species composition of macrofauna assemblages on unexploited reefs with high concentrations of mature oysters and undisturbed reef architecture. These observations provided insights on the potential changes to reef dwelling macrofauna communities and various reef ecological functions resulting from reef restoration. I sampled macrofauna at four restored oyster sanctuary reefs and adjacent non-restored plots located outside sanctuary boundaries. I then compared the effects of study site location and habitat quality (restored vs. non-restored) on macrofaunal density using thirteen response variables. Motile macrofauna density was an order of magnitude higher on restored reefs and sessile macrofauna density was two orders of magnitude higher on restored reefs. Two out of four functional feeding groups: suspension feeders and carnivore/omnivores, were more abundant on restored plots. Results indicate that restoration improved reef ecological structure and function.

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