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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 13:33-40 (2021)  -  DOI:

Effect of farming practices on growth and mortality rates in triploid and diploid eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica

Sarah Bodenstein1,*, William C. Walton2, Todd D. Steury3

1Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, 2288 Gourrier Ave, 70820 Baton Rouge, LA, USA
2Auburn University, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Science, 36528 Dauphin Island, AL, USA
3Auburn University, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 36849 Auburn, AL, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Commercial off-bottom aquaculture of the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica is challenged by repeated summer mortality events that appear to affect triploid oysters disproportionally. Many farmers believe common farming practices, especially when performed during hot summer months, may increase triploid mortality. The goal of this study was to investigate how diploid and triploid oysters react to common stressors imposed by farmers: tumbling during size grading and desiccation to prevent biofouling. Triploid and diploid oysters were deployed in floating cages at 3 farm sites along the US Gulf of Mexico coast. In May and July, oysters in 7 cages were subjected to 1 of 6 stress treatments: 1 of 3 levels of desiccation (18, 24, or 48 h) mixed with 1 of 2 levels of tumbling (tumbled or not tumbled), along with a never handled, submersed control. The mortality and growth rate of oysters were assessed in June, August, and September. Growth rates of both ploidies were affected by compounding stressors; that is, treatments with both tumbling and the longest desiccation period exhibited slower growth. Triploid oysters exhibited a greater increase in mortality in response to farm stress than diploid oysters, and mortality increased in all oysters subjected to extreme stress treatments when compared to the control. Based on this study, farmers should limit the desiccation time of oysters (particularly triploids) in the summer months to avoid any mortality or reduced growth resulting from compounding stressor effects.

KEY WORDS: Oysters · Triploids · Mortality · Stress · Aquaculture · Desiccation · Tumbling

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Cite this article as: Bodenstein S, Walton WC, Steury TD (2021) Effect of farming practices on growth and mortality rates in triploid and diploid eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica. Aquacult Environ Interact 13:33-40.

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