The Zacherl lab has been pursuing science-based oyster restoration projects in southern California since 2010.

Our objective is to use a science-based approach to explore which factors affect the ability of native Olympia oysters to recover. We accomplish this both through extensive monitoring of the demographics and ecology of native and non-native oyster species throughout southern CA, and through manipulative studies aimed at examining which restoration practices may result in the best outcomes for oysters and their associated community. Most recently, we have been involved with some Living Shorelines initiatives that explore using oyster and eelgrass bed to stabilize shorelines, improve water quality and create habitat for aquatic species.

Our recent restoration efforts include the following:

  • We completed a study in Newport Bay, CA between 2010 -2012 examining whether different restored bed designs would affect oyster recruitment, bed integrity, and associated community diversity by constructing replicate experimental beds using oyster shell purchased from Carlsbad Aquafarm. Oyster recruitment and bed integrity results from this study were published in 2015, and community diversity results are in prep.
    • Zacherl DC, Moreno A, Crossen S. 2015. Exploring Restoration Methods for the Olympia Oyster Ostrea lurida Carpenter, 1864: Effects of Shell Bed Thickness and Shell Deployment Methods on Shell Cover, Oyster Recruitment, and Oyster Density. Journal of Shellfish Research 34(3): 819-830.
  • We completed a study in Alamitos Bay, CA between 2012-2014 with partners Dr. Christine Whitcraft, (CSU Long Beach), Orange County Coastkeeper, and KZO Education. In this study, we aimed to raise public awareness about shellfish habitat and examine the impact of a constructed oyster bed on an adjacent eelgrass bed. Sara Briley, former graduate student with the Zacherl lab, finished her Master’s thesis on the effects on the eelgrass bed, Terrance Champieux (in the Whitcraft lab at CSULB) finished his Master’s thesis examining effects of the constructed bed on infauna, and, with former Zacherl lab undergraduate Cristina Fuentes, we are preparing additional manuscripts on the effects of the constructed bed on oysters and community composition.
  • OC Coastkeeper teamed with us in 2016 to bring the first Living Shorelines initiative to Newport Bay. In this project, we will restore oyster and eelgrass beds in summer 2016 at four locations in the bay in a replicated factorial design that will allow us to examine whether duel restoration of these critical habitats is more effective than restoring each individually.
  • In another Living Shorelines initiative, we are working with partners CA State Coastal Conservancy, Port of San Diego, NOAA, US FWS and the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association (SWIA) to develop a restoration plan for San Diego Bay that aims to increase shoreline resilience while restoring the functions of a native oyster bed. We hope to construct beds in summer 2017.