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Sea Grant Report Synthesizes Recent Research on LI’s Clams

Overfishing, brown tide, reduced reproductive success have contributed to the decline of the economically important species, Mercenaria mercenaria

New York Sea Grant (NYSG) announces the release of The Hard Clam Research Initiative: Factors Controlling Mercenaria mercenaria Populations in South Shore Bays of Long Island, NY, a 43-page technical report that summarizes the key results of five research projects funded through NYSG’s Hard Clam Research Initiative which began in 1999.

Funding partners included NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, South Shore Estuary Reserve, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and New York Sea Grant. These five projects and several related studies (all listed below) addressed the downward trend in hard clam populations in Long Island’s south shore bays, an issue of both environmental and economic interest to the region.

Says Ms. Cornelia Schlenk, Assistant Director of New York Sea Grant who spearheaded the Hard Clam Research Initiative, “The main goal in the preparation of this report was to achieve improved, science-based understanding of the factors controlling hard clam populations in Long Island’s south shore estuaries, and thereby contribute towards better management and potential enhancement of a once highly productive regional resource.” Research topics included in the report include: the hard clam’s reduced reproductive success, changes in the clam’s food supply and predators, the effects of brown tide, ecosystem changes in Great South Bay and other LI bays, and the effects of harvesting practices as predicted by clam population models. Continues Ms. Schlenk, “Particular emphasis is given in this synthesis report to findings that have direct implications for the management of hard clam populations.”

Compiled from publications provided by the project investigators, reports submitted to NYSG, and material presented at an August 2008 workshop sponsored by NYSG at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, the report was prepared by V. Monica Bricelj, Ph.D., of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.

The entire 43-page report and a separate 7-page excerpt that includes the Executive Summary and the Final Conclusions and Recommendations are available for download (see "Related Info" column in upper right-hand corner of this page). Hard copies are available for free by calling 631-632-9124.

Project titles, principal investigators, and additional projects and funders are listed below:

Titles and Principal Investigators of Projects funded through the Hard Clam Research Initiative

Relationships between the Timing of Reproduction, Fecundity, and Egg Composition to Declines in Hard Clam Recruitment (PIs: R.I.E.Newell, S. Tettelbach, C. Gobler)

The Trophic Interaction Between Hard Clams and Natural Assemblages of Phytoplankton (PIs: R. Cerrato, D. Lonsdale, G. Lopez, R. Flood, R. Amstrong, J. Levinton)

Modeling Hard Clam Growth, Survival and Environmental Interactions: What are the Controlling Factors? (PIs: E. Hofmann, V. M. Bricelj, R. Grizzle, J. Klinck, J. Kraeuter, E. Powell, S. Buckner)

The Effects of Brown Tide and Plankton Quality on Hard Clam Larval Growth and Survivorship (PIs: D. Padilla, C. Gobler)

A Modeling Study of the Growth, Survival and Recruitment of Hard Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) Larval and Post-Settlement Populations (PIs: E. Hofmann, V.M. Bricelj, S. Buckner, J. Klinck, J. Kraeuter, E. Powell)

Additional Projects Cited

Supported by New York Sea Grant core federal funds:

Impact of Predation by the Ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi on Larval Mortality of Mercenaria mercenaria (PIs: D. Lonsdale, R. Cerrato)

Influence of Ocean Exchange on Nutrients, Plankton Assemblages, Submerged Aquatic Vegetation and Shellfish within Long Island's South Shore Estuaries (PIs: C. Gobler, B. Peterson)

Supported by NOAA-Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algae (ECOHAB) funds:

The importance of blooms of brown tide, Aureococcus anophagefferens, in coastal lagoonal systems: Coupling numerical simulation modeling and experiments to determine population effects on hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria, individuals, cohorts and populations (PIs: J. Kraeuter, V.M. Bricelj, E. E. Hofmann, J. Klinck, E. Powell, E. Ward)

Supported by the National Science Foundation (funding allocation to D. Padilla via the Intergovernmental Personnel Act)

Research that led to the publication Prezeslawski et al. 2008.

Barbara A. Branca | EurekAlert!
Further information:

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