Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Guidelines for evaluation performance of oyster habitat restoration


Restoration of degraded ecosystems is an important societal goal, yet inadequate monitoring and the absence of clear performance metrics are common criticisms of many habitat restoration projects. Funding limitations can prevent adequate monitoring, but we suggest that the lack of accepted metrics to address the diversity of restoration objectives also presents a serious challenge to the monitoring of restoration projects. A working group with experience in designing and monitoring oyster reef projects was used to develop standardized monitoring metrics, units, and performance criteria that would allow for comparison among restoration sites and projects of various construction types. A set of four universal metrics (reef areal dimensions, reef height, oyster density, and oyster size–frequency distribution) and a set of three universal environmental variables (water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen) are recommended to be monitored for all oyster habitat restoration projects regardless of their goal(s). In addition, restoration goal‐based metrics specific to four commonly cited ecosystem service‐based restoration goals are recommended, along with an optional set of seven supplemental ancillary metrics that could provide information useful to the interpretation of prerestoration and postrestoration monitoring data. Widespread adoption of a common set of metrics with standardized techniques and units to assess well‐defined goals not only allows practitioners to gauge the performance of their own projects but also allows for comparison among projects, which is both essential to the advancement of the field of oyster restoration and can provide new knowledge about the structure and ecological function of oyster reef ecosystems.

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Restoration Ecology



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