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SHELL-GIS: A NEW GIS SOFTWARE FOR PREDICTING THE GROWTH RATES OF OYSTERS AS A FUNCTION OF SITE SELECTION AND PLANTING DENSITY

Carter Newell, Anthony J.S. Hawkins, Kevin Morris, John Richardson, Chris Davis, Tessa Getchis

musselsandoysters@gmail.com
Hydrodynamic flow models and shellfish growth models are important elements of ecosystem models which determine production carrying capacity, environmental effects and ecosystem services. Many of these models lack a detailed representation of the hydrodynamics of the aquaculture structure in suspension or bottom culture, and do not have sufficient spatial resolution to be useful on an individual farm scale. In addition, inadequate representation of the drivers of shellfish growth, especially the detrital components of suspended particulate matter, limits the predictability of such models.

Using the modeling software platforms for STEMGIS (http://discoverysoftware.com) and ShellSIM (http://shellsim.com) we were able to integrate a calibrated hydrodynamic flow model, water quality data, and a calibrated model for the American oyster (Crassostrea virginica) to predict oyster growth and environmental impacts as a function of seeding density on a 50 m grid scale for an aquaculture region in Maine, USA (Damariscotta River). Simulations of water flow, growth drivers (temperature, salinity, food concentration), growth rates and environmental effects can be interrogated over time using the user-friendly interface developed for ShellGIS, where options for data input include as an aquaculture farmer using average drivers or as an expert using a time series for drivers. Simplified output formats provide answers to frequently asked questions by shellfish farmers. Results emphasize the importance of understanding farm scale hydrodynamics to maximize growth of bottom cultured oysters.

Current studies involve the hydrodynamics characteristics of suspended culture systems (bags and trays), thereby enabling optimization of both suspended and benthic culture practices. In addition, the STEMGISis being developed as a decision-making tool for aquaculture development in areas with competing uses.
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