Habitat Assessment in Oyster Conservation Areas

Oyster reefs provide valuable ecosystem services as both Essential Fish Habitat as well as protection for shoreline and associated vegetated habitats, such as saltmarsh and seagrasses. Recent conservation measures by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TWPD) have involved closing seven minor bays to oyster harvest in order to protect sensitive and ecological significant shallow intertidal oyster reefs, which in turn protect adjacent seagrass and salt marsh habitats. This project will allow for the monitoring of oyster reef health within the closed areas to inform adaptive management strategies and the need for additional conservation action, such as restoration.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate oyster reef health following specific conservation actions (e.g. closure of the reefs to harvest) to inform the need for future conservation measures, such as habitat restoration and enhancement. Monitoring will inform the adaptive management of estuarine habitats on which Species of Greatest Conservation Need depend.


  1. Assess oyster reef health in the Carlos-Mesquite-Ayres Bay system, Christmas Bay, and Carancahua Bay
  2. Investigate potential changes in physical reef structure using singlebeam echosounder surveys.