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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

    AEI prepress abstract   -  DOI:

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

    Sarah Bodenstein*, William C. Walton, Todd D. Steury

    *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.