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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:North Carolina State University
  • David B Eggleston
  • (919) 515-3711
Award Date:02/17/2012
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 555,804
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 555,804
  • FY 2012=$555,804
Start Date:03/15/2012
End Date:02/28/2018
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Interacting Effects of Local Demography and Larval Connectivity on Estuarine Metapopulation Dynamics
Federal Award ID Number:1155609
DUNS ID:042092122
Parent DUNS ID:142363428
Program Officer:
  • Daniel J. Thornhill
  • (703) 292-8143

Awardee Location

Street:2601 Wolf Village Way
Awardee Cong. District:04

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:North Carolina State University
Cong. District:04

Abstract at Time of Award

Intellectual Merit: The PIs will use the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, as a model system and will attempt to optimize the design of networks of no-take reserves as a strategy for maintaining metapopulations of this commercially harvested species. The project specifically recognizes that network persistence depends on (1) the potential for growth, survival, and reproduction within reserves, and (2) the potential to distribute offspring among reserves. Thus, demographic processes within reserves and settling areas play important roles, along with variability of physical transport. The PIs plan to: (1) test and refine 3D bio-physical models of connectivity due to oyster larval transport in a shallow, wind-dominated system; (2) test, refine, and apply technology to detect natal origins of larvae using geochemical tags in larval shell; and (3) integrate regional connectivity and demographic rates to model metapopulation dynamics. Broader Impacts: This study will produce new tools and test and refine others used for studying larval connectivity, a fundamentally important process in the maintenance of natural populations, and thus in biological conservation and resource management. The tools include a hydrodynamic modeling tool coupled with an open-source particle tracking model that will be available on-line with computer code and user guide. The project will use integrated modeling approaches to evaluate the design of reserve networks: results will be directly useful to improving oyster and ecosystem-based management in Pamlico Sound, and the methods will inform approaches to network design in other locations. There is extensive education and outreach in the form of training undergraduate and graduate students, mentoring post-docs, and providing hands-on research opportunities for high school students and their teachers.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Theuerkauf, S. J., D. B. Eggleston, K. W. Theuerkauf, B. J. Puckett "Oyster density and demographic rates on natural intertidal reefs and hardened shoreline structures" Journal of Shellfish Research, v.36, 2017, p.87.

Theuerkauf, S., D. Eggleston, B. Puckett, and K. Theuerkauf "Wave exposure structures the distribution of oysters on natural intertidal reef but not on hardened shoreline structures" Estuaries & Coasts, v., 2017, p.doi 10.10.

Peters, J., D. Eggleston, B. Puckett, S. Theuerkauf "Oyster demographics in harvested reefs versus no-take reserves: Implications for larval spillover and restoration success" Frontiers in Marine Science, Conservation & Sustainability, v.4, 2017, p.Doi:10.33.

Kroll, I., A. Poray, B. Puckett, D. Eggleston, J. Fodrie "Environmental effects on elemental signatures in the shells of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica: implications for the use of geochemical tagging to assess population connectivity" Marine Ecology Progress Series., v., 2016, p..

Theuerkauf, K. W., D. B. Eggleston, and S. J. Theuerkauf "An exotic species alters patterns of marine community development" Ecological Monographs, v.88, 2017, p., DOIi:10.

Qian, H., Y. Li, R. He, D. B. Eggleston "Connectivity in the Intra-American Seas and implications for potential larval transport" Coral Reefs, v., 2014, p.. doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1244-0 

Puckett, B.J., D.B. Eggleston, P.C. Kerr, R.A. Luettich "Larval dispersal and population connectivity among a network of marine reserves" Fisheries Oceanography, v., 2014, p..

Puckett, B. J. and D. B. Eggleston. "Oyster Demographics in a Network of No-Take Reserves: Recruitment, Growth, Survival, and Density Dependence" Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science, v.4, 2012, p.605-627.

Puckett, B. J. and D. B. Eggleston "Metapopulation dynamics and the design of a marine reserve network" Ecosphere., v.7, 2016, p.1-23, e01.

Dunn, R., D. Eggleston, N. Lindquist "Substrate effects on demographic rates of Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica)." Journal of Shellfisheries Research, v., 2014, p..

Mroch, R., D. Eggleston, B. Puckett "Spatiotemporal variation in oyster fecundity and reproductive output in a network of no-take reserves" Journal of Shellfisheries Research, v.31, 2012, p.1091-1101.

Puckett, B. J. and D. B. Eggleston "Oyster Demographics in a Network of No-Take Reserves: Recruitment, Growth, Survival, and Density Dependence" Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science, v.4, 2012, p.605.

Pierson, K. J. and D. B. Eggleston "Response of estuarine fish to large-scale oyster reef restoration" Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, v.143, 2014, p.273.

Puckett, B. J., S. J. Theuerkauf, D. B. Eggleston, R. Guajardo, C. Hardy, J. Gao, and R. Luettich "Integrating larval dispersal, permitting, and logistical factors within a validated habitat suitability index for oyster restoration" . Frontiers in Marine Science, Conservation & Sustainability, v.5, 2018, p.doi: 10.3.

Vasconcelos R, D. B. Eggleston, O. Le Pape, and I. Tulp "Patterns and processes of habitat-specific demographic variability in exploited marine species" ICES Journal of Marine Science, v., 2013, p.. doi:doi:10.1093/icesjms/fst136 

Theuerkauf, S., Eggleston, D., Puckett, B., Theuerkauf, K. "Wave exposure structures the distribution of oysters on natural intertidal reef, but not on man-made structures in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System." Estuaries and Coasts, v.40, 2016, p.376.

Theuerkauf, S. J., B. J. Puckett, K. W. Theuerkauf, E. J. Theuerkauf, and D. B. Eggleston "Density-dependent role of an invasive marsh grass on ecosystem service provision" PlosOne,, v., 2017, p.. doi:doi:10.1371/journal pone.0173007 

Dunn, R., D. Eggleston, N. Lindquist "Oyster-sponge interactions and bioerosion of reef-building substrate materials: implications for oyster restoration" Journal of Shellfisheries Research, v.33, 2014, p.1.

Puckett, B. J. and D. B. Eggleston "Metapopulation dynamics guide marine reserve design: importance of connectivity, demographics, and stock enhancement" Ecosphere., v.7, 2016, p.e01322.

Kroll, I., A. Poray, B. Puckett, D. Eggleston, J. Fodrie "Environmental effects on elemental signatures in the shells of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica: implications for the use of geochemical tagging to assess population connectivity" Marine Ecology Progress Series., v.543, 2016, p.173. doi:doi:10.3754/meps/11549 

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Project Outcomes Report for NSF/Bio/Oce 1155609

Title: Collaborative Research: Interacting effects of local demography and larval connectivity on estuarine metapopulation dynamics

A fundamental issue concerning the population dynamics of marine organisms and marine conservation biology involves identifying the paths of larval dispersal connecting isolated populations, and how variation in intensity of dispersal along these paths influences the how these populations fluctuate in space and time. These isolated populations often form what is referred to as a “metapopulation”, which can sometimes contain “source” populations whose birth rates are greater than death rates, therefore providing offspring to other populations via dispersal of larvae or adults. Conversely, isolated “sink” populations are those whose death rates are greater than birth rates, such that their persistence is dependent upon source populations.  Marine protected areas can potentially subsidize harvested populations via larval spillover, however, spillover benefits can only be realized if harvested areas contain suitable habitat for larval settlement and survival. This study used the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Pamlico Sound (PS), North Carolina (NC), USA as the model system to understand how the interacting effects of resource management (e.g., no-take sanctuaries vs fished areas), local oyster demography (e.g., births & deaths), and oyster larval connectivity influenced the dynamics and restoration potential of one of the most important ecosystem engineers in estuarine systems, and whose abundance is at historic lows globally.

Intellectual Merit: The results confirm the benefits of reef restoration and no-take sanctuaries. Not only were oyster densities up to 72 times higher in the no-take sanctuaries than harvested reefs, but few oysters in harvested reefs were greater than the legal harvesting size, whereas protected reefs typically had oysters of different sizes, including many large individuals. Furthermore, the potential larval output was around 6 times higher in the restored, protected reefs. This suggests that there is more larval spillover from sanctuaries to harvested reefs than the other way around – sanctuaries can contribute substantially to the larval supply of the oyster metapopulation.  The field observations of oyster demographic rates were then integrated into a metapopulation modeling framework to simulate the entire oyster metapopulation to understand underlying source-sink dynamics.  We found that larval connectivity among oyster populations, which is driven mainly by wind-driven surface currents, is a major determinant of the dynamics of the overall metapopulation, followed in importance by reef-specific population sizes, demographic rates, and location of a population within Pamlico Sound.  Similar to field observations, the metapopulation model found that 86% of the no-take oyster sanctuaries served as metapopulation sources.

Broader Implications: Future management efforts should consider oysters as an interconnected metapopulation, with continued efforts to protect and restore frequent ‘source’ subpopulations while managing harvest from ‘sink’ subpopulations. An important outcome from this work was the development and application of GIS-based decision support tools that have been adopted at state (NC Division of Marine Fisheries) and national levels (NOAA, The Nature Conservancy) to help guide oyster conservation and restoration, as well as aquaculture. The study supported the training of 3 PhD students, 3 MS students, and 8 undergraduate students.


Last Modified: 06/13/2018
Modified by: David B Eggleston

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