Detritus Formation, Utilization by Bivalves, and Deposition

Project Description

Project personnel are studying the role of detritus formation and its role in the support of bivalve aquaculture. Innovative methods of chemical analysis, based on enzymatic hydrolyzability, for detritus food quality are being combined with biological measures of feeding, growth, and deposition. Researchers are working in estuaries that host or may host bivalve aquaculture. The laboratory-based project is generating detritus via decay of phytoplankton and using it to feed bivalves. Through field monitoring of suspended particulates, project personnel are examining the same progression of phytoplankton to detritus during the summer growing cycle, and assessing bivalve responses to the changes and response of bottom sediments to deposition.

Results and Accomplishments

During 2017-2018, project leadership shifted Cheyenne Adams to a Master’s degree program. The science shifted from field and lab work to interpretation of previous work. This work is near completion and should result in a thesis and publication. The experiments and fieldwork being documented largely accomplish the goals of the project’s detritus component, as originally proposed.

The experimental work exhibits the ability of oysters to feed on phytodetritus and utilize its bioavailable protein. The field work, interpreted via time series analysis in the context of the lab work, corroborates the importance of detrital protein in facilitating the growth of oysters.

Summary of Data Being Collected

Data Type Quantity Location
Deposition by oysters Water column and sediments Bi-weekly Damariscotta estuary
Bioavailability of dissolved organic nitrogen Water column Monthly Damariscotta River