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UNF researcher demonstrates importance of oysters in keeping local waters clean

Two UNF students examining the sand and looking for sea life at a local beachDr. Nicole Dix, University of North Florida biology researcher, has published a study that shows the importance of oysters for keeping local waters clean.

The results suggested that oyster reefs populating the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) in St. Johns County play an important role in water quality by filtering about 60% of the estuary’s volume within its residence time.

The GTMNERR is a well-flushed estuary characterized as having an extraordinarily high abundance of oysters that resembles the populations described by Euro-American settlers. Dense populations of oysters, such as those found in GTM, have long been believed to play an important role in water filtration, but this is the first study where research teams had access to such robust population data (collected by GTMNERR) to parametrize their models.

The results of Dix’s study provide clear and actionable information for the benefits of oysters in filtering waters, management of these oyster populations and conservation of their ecosystem services.

Read the full study on “Beyond Residence Time: Quantifying Factors that Drive the Spatially Explicit Filtration Services of an Abundant Native Oyster Population” in Estuaries and Coasts.