Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2022

Academic Department


Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. David Bowne


The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) resides within the Chesapeake Bay and their oyster reefs act as a habitat for many other species in the Bay. Within the Chesapeake Bay, the eastern oyster has optimal conditions that are best suited for its growth and survival, however that may be negatively affected by current changes to the Bay such as water pollution from fertilizer and animal waste, sea level rise, and ocean acidification. Therefore, it is important to find the locations within the Chesapeake Bay where optimal conditions for the eastern oyster are met because they are a critical species to the health of the Bay and the surrounding community. I created a habitat suitability index for the eastern oyster using ArcMap, a geographic information system software. The habitat suitability index incorporates data on pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, total suspended solids, Secchi depth, and chlorophyll a. These data were obtained from monitoring stations (n = 19), provided by the Chesapeake Bay Program. Since the monitoring stations only have the water quality values for their location, spatial interpolation was done using inverse distance weighting to estimate the surrounding water quality values. This area was found by overlaying interpolated values for each variable to determine which areas of the Bay satisfy the habitat requirements for the oyster, as reported in the literature. This information would be useful to anyone seeking to grow the oyster populations or focus energy on protecting them. It was discovered that the portion of the Bay that is best suited for eastern oysters is found between Annapolis and St. Leonard. The area of the overall optimal region for eastern oyster suitability is 59770.415hectares.


Honors Senior Thesis; Honors in the Discipline; BIO 492 Honors Research in Biology; Scholarship and Creative Arts Day (SCAD)

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Biology Commons