Student Research Projects

Oyster Restoration and Water Quality in an Urban Sub-Estuary

Student Melinda Hopper
Matt Boyce
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course CHEM 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


This study was conducted to monitor a local body of water and to determine the effect of oysters on water quality. The purpose is to determine whether oyster restoration can help the quality of the water and whether this site is an ideal location for restoration. Water samples were collected over a year long period at 3 different sites. Each sample was tested for various water quality indicators, including chlorophyll-a, total phosphorus, temperature, pH, BOD and salinity. Sediment samples and oyster tissue samples were also collected and run through an ICP-MS to identify the toxic metals found within them. High concentrations of lead, mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals were some of the main components. The water contained very low levels of metals due to the tidal influence. However, the sediments and oyster tissue contained high concentrations of many of them, showing the effects of bioaccumulation. It also shows the value of the oysters as filters for the system, removing toxins and nutrients from the ecosystem.