Validation of a habitat suitability index for oyster restoration

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Seth Theuerkauf, Romuald Lipcius


Habitat suitability index (HSI) models provide spatially explicit information on the capacity of a given habitat to support a species of interest, and their prevalence has increased dramatically in recent years. Despite caution that the reliability of HSIs must be validated using independent, quantitative data, most HSIs intended to inform terrestrial and marine species management remain unvalidated. Furthermore, of the eight HSI models developed for eastern oyster ( Crassostrea virginica ) restoration and fishery production, none has been validated. Consequently, we developed, calibrated, and validated an HSI for the eastern oyster to identify optimal habitat for restoration in a tributary of Chesapeake Bay, the Great Wicomico River (GWR). The GWR harbors an unparalleled, restored oyster population, and therefore serves as an excellent model system for assessing the validity of the HSI. The HSI was derived from GIS layers of bottom type, salinity, and water depth (surrogate for dissolved oxygen), and was tested using live adult oyster density data from a survey of high vertical relief reefs (HRR) and low vertical relief reefs (LRR) in the sanctuary network. Live adult oyster density was a statistically significant sigmoid func...Continue Reading

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