Langdon 2012-2013 Research Update
Aquaculture Research Program
Chris Langdon, Professor, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Over the previous 17 years, a major focus of the COMES Aquaculture program at HMSC has been the USDA-funded Molluscan Broodstock Program (MBP) that improved yields of Pacific oysters through genetic selection. Due to elimination of Congressional Special Projects (“earmarks”) in 2011, funding for MBP was lost. In 2013, a group of West Coast oyster growers came together to support the continuation of a scaled-down version of MBP (industry’s MBP or iMBP) that will maintain genetic gains as well as continue to improve desirable traits.
The Aquaculture program continues to help the shellfish industry address acidified seawater conditions on the West coast that have seriously impacted larval production from hatcheries and wild populations. In fall 2010, a four-year NSF grant was obtained in collaboration with CEOAS lead PI George Waldbusser and co-PI’s Burke Hales and Brian Haley, to study the effects ocean acidification on several species of marine bivalve larvae, including both Pacific and Native oyster species. A specially designed flow-through system will be built in the Aquaculture labs that will allow bivalves and other filter-feeding organisms to be exposed to seawater types of different carbonate chemistries. This research will improve our understanding of how long-term changes in global conditions will affect shellfish and other marine calcifying organisms.
Funding from NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) was obtained to support PhD student Matt Gray’s studies on the effects of different environmental factors on the feeding physiology of West Coast Native oysters (Ostrea lurida). The feeding physiology of Native oysters will be compared with that of Pacific oysters in order to assess the contribution of shellfish aquaculture to water clarification. These studies will help restoration managers evaluate the contribution oysters make to removal of suspended sediment and phytoplankton from coastal waters.
On the West Coast, aquaculture of commercially important fish species, such as sablefish, lingcod, yellowtail, white bass and rockfish, will become increasingly important in meeting our food demands as harvests of wild fish stocks become limited. The major bottleneck in the aquaculture of marine fish species is the successful rearing of their larval stages. In 2011, a USDA grant was obtained from the Western Regional Aquaculture Center (WRAC) to support PhD student Matt Hawkyard’s studies using encapsulated micronutrients to deliver nutrients to West Coast fish larvae, in cooperation with researchers at Hubbs Sea World, NOAA and USDA. In 2012, additional funding was obtained from AFRI/USDA to extend the study of microparticulate delivery of nutrients to marine fish larvae, in collaboration with researchers from Norway and the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center at HMSC.
Lastly, the excellent aquaculture facilities at HMSC have facilitated participation in a large BP-funded toxicology program led by OSU’s Bill Stubblefield that focuses on the biological responses of marine bivalve and echinoderm larvae to oil and dispersants associated with the Gulf Oil Spill. This project that will help us better understand the potential impacts of future oil spills and to improve responses to reduce environmental impacts.