Data from: Restoring oysters to urban estuaries: redefining habitat quality for eastern oyster performance near New York City

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Restoring and conserving coastal resilience faces increasing challenges under current climate change predictions. Oyster restoration, in particular, faces threats from alterations in precipitation, warming water temperatures, and urbanization of coastlines that dramatically change salinity patterns, foster the proliferation and spread disease, and disrupt habitat connectivity, respectively. New York City (NYC) coastal waters, once home to a booming oyster fishery for eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica), are now nearly devoid of live oyster reefs. Oyster restoration in urban estuaries is motivated by the synergistic ecosystem benefits this native keystone species can deliver. Recent surveys have documented substantial remnant populations of adult oysters in the upper low salinity zone of the Hudson/Raritan Estuary (HRE) near Tarrytown, NY. This study assessed fitness-related performance across the HRE salinity gradient to evaluate habitat suitability on an estuarine scale. Oysters were hatchery-produced from wild, moderate-salinity broodstock, then outplanted for measurement of growth, survival, reproduction and disease prevalence over two years. Survival as generally higher in the lower salinity river sites and in the higher salinity Jamaica Bay sites relative to mesohaline NYC harbor sites. Growth rate was highest in Jamaica Bay and had high variation among other sites. Surprisingly, the highest proportion of individuals with sex-differentiated gametes and the highest average gonad maturation index as found at a low salinity site. Consistent with the advanced gametogenesis measured in experimental animals at low salinity, annual wild recruitment was documented near the low salinity remnant population in each of five monitored years. These results suggest that the remnant HRE oyster population is a robust, self-sustaining population that can be leveraged to support restoration of subpopulations in other parts of the estuary, but further research is required to determine if the mesohaline and near-ocean reaches of the HRE can support the full oyster life cycle.

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These data are being shared under a CC-BY (Attribution 4.0 International Content can be freely adapted or shared, but appropriate attribution must be given and no additional restrictions may be applied to the dataset.Please cite this dataset as: McFarland, Katherine and Matthew Hare (2018). Data from: Restoring oysters to urban estuaries: redefining habitat quality for eastern oyster performance near New York City. [dataset] Cornell University eCommons Repository.


This work was supported by The Atkinson's Center for a Sustainable Future

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restoration; Hudson/Raritan Estuary; Crassostrea virginica; salinity; osmotic limits; gemetogenesis; juvenile recruitment; disease; condition index; growth rate; survivorship


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McFarland K, Hare MP (2018) Restoring oysters to urban estuaries: Redefining habitat quality for eastern oyster performance near New York City. PLoS ONE 3(11): e0207368.

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Attribution 4.0 International



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