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SHELLGIS: A GIS SOFTWARE TOOL FOR PREDICTING GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF BIVALVE SHELLFISH ACCORDING TO SITE SELECTION AND CULTURE PRACTICE

Carter R. Newell*, A.J.S. Hawkins, K.P. Morris, J.E. Richardson, C.V. Davis, T.S. Getchis

Maine Shellfish R+D, 7 Creek Lane, Damariscotta, Maine U.S.A. 04543 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 have integrated environmental descriptors, a hydrodynamic flow model and an ecological model for the American oyster Crassostrea virginica to predict oyster growth and environmental impacts as a function of culture practice at 50 m resolution through an aquaculture region in Maine, USA (Damariscotta River). Interactive effects of environmental drivers (temperature, salinity, food concentration), shellfish densities and benthic boundary flow dynamics on growth rates and the environment can be interrogated over time using the user-friendly interface tailored through stakeholder interaction for ShellGIS. Simplified output formats provide answers to frequently asked questions by shellfish farmers, such as include optimal seeding times and densities so as to minimize time to harvestable size. Results emphasize the influence of farm scale hydrodynamics upon growth of bottom cultured oysters.

Current work is adding further components to simulate hydrodynamics interrelations in and around suspended culture systems (bags and trays), economic analyses of profitability and further user interfaces to suit different interests, towards a transferable tool that will help optimize both suspended and benthic culture practices.


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