June 25, 2021
Thank you for contributing to our time-lapse in partnership with the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research Program, the University of Virginia’s Coastal Research Center, and The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve Chapter. Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) live in salty or brackish waters, attaching to older shells, piers, rocks, or any hard, submerged surface. Oysters grow in clusters, forming rock-life reefs that provide resources for other marine animals and plants. Oysters were historically abundant along the Eastern Shore of Virginia; however, due to disease, overharvesting, and habitat destruction, oyster populations have declined dramatically. Fortunately, significant efforts have been made to restore oyster populations in Virginia. For example, in this view of the landscape, The Nature Conservancy’s staff and local scientists created an artificial oyster reef composed of limestone gravel, concrete, and crushed oyster shell (termed an 'Oyster Castle’) along the tidal creek in June 2021. Help us document restoration progress and see how this reef develops over time!
The Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) is an extremely dynamic, heterogeneous coastal barrier landscape comprising mainland watersheds, tidal marshes, lagoons, and barrier islands. Our goal for the VCR LTER program is to develop a predictive understanding of the response of coastal barrier systems to long-term environmental changes in climate, sea level and land use, and to relate these to the ecological services the coastal barrier systems provide. We focus on how slow progressive environmental changes interact with short-term disturbances such as storms and species invasions to control the dynamics and biotic structure in the coastal barrier landscape.