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The Impacts of Acidification on the Eastern Oyster Population in the Chesapeake Bay Abstract The eastern oyster, (Crassotrea

virginica) is a keystone species within the Chesapeake Bay and plays important ecological and economic roles in the region. In the last century, the Bays native oyster population has seen a serious decline with the introduction of two diseases, MSX and Dermo; overharvesting; and pressures from sedimentation and eutrophication. Restoration projects in recent years have been largely successful in rebuilding native oyster populations and the aquaculture industry. However the oyster is facing a new threat through acidifying waters. Recent studies point to land-based pollution as a current cause. Yet the expected rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidification associated with climate change, is likely to exacerbate preexisting issues and put the oyster in greater risk. Chesapeake oystermen are looking to the West, where acidification has already had an impact on the industry, for solutions and preventative measures. Annotated Bibliography Peer reviewed articles: Borges, A. and Gypens, Nathalie. Carbonate chemistry in the coastal zone responds more strongly to eutrophication than to ocean acidification. Limonology and Oceanography 55: 346- 353. Borges and Gypens briefly introduce ocean acidification and discuss the impacts acidified waters have on marine species. The authors argue, however, that in coastal zones and estuaries, eutrophication and sediment runoff will have more of an impact than acidification, and can even counter the effect of ocean acidification. Eutrophication is a major problem in the Chesapeake estuary. Should Borges and Gypenss study hold true, this could have enormous implications on shell-forming species in the Bay, which may not be as affected by acidification as estimated. This article is also important to this research as Waldbusser directly responds to this study in his 2011 article, arguing against Borges and Gypenss findings. The issue of acidification in the Chesapeake requires much more study, but this is an important article that could be used to conduct further research. Doney, S. et. al. Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem. Annual Review of Marine Science 1: 69- 92. Doney et. al provide a comprehensive overview of ocean acidification, including impacts acidification will have on marine biodiversity. The article introduces acidification by talking about rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide through anthropogenic impacts. The authors then describe the ocean carbonate system, through formula, and how an increase in carbon dioxide will affect ocean chemistry. The article includes extensive cited literature, a variety of graphs, tables and images demonstrating data, and definitions of

concepts and terms in the sidebar. These tools made the material readable and understandable. As I was studying the impact acidification will have on the eastern oyster, I thought it necessary to go back and research ocean acidification. I chose this article because Doneys work on acidification is cited frequently, including in Waldbussers 2011 study. Waldbusser, G. et al. 2011. Biocalcification in the eastern oyster (crassostrea virginica) in relation to long-term trends in Chesapeake Bay pH. Estuaries & Coasts 34: 221-231. Waldbusser et al. argue that shell-forming species in estuaries will be affected by acidification sooner than marine species, as estuaries, like the Chesapeake Bay, are less buffered from acidification, and have multiple sources that contribute to acidifying waters. Waldbusser studied twenty-three years of water quality data from the Bay, from 1985 to 2008. Researchers found that throughout these years, pH has decreased in polyhaline waters and has remained unchanged in meshohaline waters. Waldbusser argues that the saltier waters in the Bay are likely to become more acidic and impact the shell formation of the eastern oyster. Based on studies of pH values and oysters in the lab, acidification in some Chesapeake waters may already be impacting the ability of oysters to form their shells. The trends in pH data in this study are largely due to eutrophication, which points back to land pollution. The variability of pH in estuarine waters makes it extremely difficult to predict the further potential impacts ocean acidification could have on the Bay, and in particular, on calcifying organisms, such as the oyster. Popular journals: Brainard, J. Crab vs. oyster: as acidity increases, some species may win and others lose. Chesapeake Quarterly 11. Jeffrey Brainard wrote in the Chesapeake Quarterly in March 2012 of the negative and positive impacts acidification will have on different species within the Chesapeake Bay. Brainard summarizes how shell-forming species, such as the eastern oyster, will be unable to build their shells should the Bays water become more acidic. Yet Brainard fails to mention what this expected tipping point might be. He does highlight a study by Justin Ries from UNC Chapel Hill, who found that crabs may respond well, initially, to increased CO2 levels in the Bay. Yet blue crabs feed on shell-forming organisms, populations of which will decrease with increased acidification, decreasing available food for the blue crab. The article shows the direct impact acidified waters could have on oysters, as well as further impacts on the greater ecosystem. Acidification is a complex issue that could harm some species and benefit others. However, when looking at the interactions between these species within the ecosystem, the impacts from acidification could be far-reaching and extremely detrimental. The article shows a broader picture when looking at the potential decline of the oyster within the Bay. Greer, J. Killer from across the sea. Chesapeake Quarterly 8.

Greer examines the MSX parasite, which caused massive die-offs of the eastern oyster in the second half of the twentieth century. He argues that among other issues that led to the decrease in population of the oyster, including overharvesting, disease had the biggest impact. Greer discusses the history and origin of the parasite, as well as the relationship with another parasite, Dermo. The article provides a graph of millions of pounds of oysters per year, from 1875 to 2000, that successfully demonstrates the negative effect these parasites have had on the eastern oyster within the Bay. Background on MSX and Dermo are important in terms of the historical context of the decline and restoration of the eastern oyster within the Bay in recent years. Nash, SP. 2012. An acidifying estuary? The other CO2 Problem. Chesapeake Quarterly 11. Nash focuses his article on a study conducted by Tom Arnold and Whitman Miller on acidification in the Bay, prompted by the findings from the Waldbusser article, Biocalcification in the eastern oyster (crassostrea virginica) in relation to long-term trends in Chesapeake bay pH. Arnold and Miller created simulations in the Severn River, a tributary of the Bay, by pumping carbon dioxide into parts of the river to concentrations equal to expected levels of atmospheric CO2 in 2050- 2100. They then studied what effect these increased concentrations had on seagrass and oyster populations. Uncertainties exist as to what extent acidification will affect the Bay. Yet, according to Miller and Arnold, a baseline shift is inevitable, and species will reach their toleration level as variables change. Millers oyster study was inconclusive due to local factors within the river. The article failed to mention the difference in conditions between the River and the Bay, in terms of salinity and sedimentation, and how this could impact the study. It also did not mention whether this study could be replicated in the Chesapeake Bay itself, which could yield some interesting results. Web sites: CBF. 2013. Oyster restoration centers. URL: Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Accessed 11 March 2013. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation highlights several restoration projects of the eastern oyster in Maryland and Virginia. The site briefly reviews the ecological and historical significance of the eastern oyster in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the decline of the native oyster population in the region. The site first summarizes the efforts of the Maryland Oyster Restoration Center, established in 2002, which produces diseaseresistant spat in tanks and builds up sanctuary reefs throughout Maryland waters. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation also features a Virginia Oyster Restoration Center, which provides similar services, but seems to have a greater focus on promoting commercial oyster aquaculture. The site gives a general overview of restoration efforts throughout the Bay region. Although the Foundation does not get very specific with their procedures, I found it helpful when looking into the background of the eastern oyster within the Bay and what has been and is being done to restore native oyster populations.

NOAA. 2013. Oyster reefs. URL: Chesapeake Bay Office. Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Accessed 3 April 2013. NOAAs Chesapeake Bay Office provides a detailed background of the eastern oyster within the Bay. The site goes over the historical significance of the oyster in the region, describes the range and life history of the Crassotrea virginica, and the ecosystem roles the oyster fills. NOAA briefly describes MSX and Dermo, the diseases impacting the oysters, as well as studies done on water quality in areas with restored oyster populations. The site lacked a list of references, which would have been useful, however, I found the information trustworthy, given the organization that published the data. There were also several relevant links provided to related NOAA resources, such as restoration information. The NOAA site was a great source for the project in terms of introducing the eastern oyster with important general facts about the oyster within the Bay. Oregon State University. 2012. Hatchery, OSU scientists link ocean acidification to larval oyster failure. URL: Accessed 2 April 2013. The article, published by Oregon State University, is based on a study conducted by researchers associated with the university. The study focused on larval oyster failure at a commercial oyster hatchery in Oregon, which the researchers attributed to ocean acidification. The site summarizes the findings found in a journal article, Limnology and Oceanography, yet fails to provide a direct reference to the article. The site does however cite researchers, such as George Waldbusser and Burke Hales, who comment on the effect increased anthropogenic CO2 has had on the oyster industry, the impacts it will have in the future as oceans become more acidic, and some ways hatcheries can try to find ways around changing conditions. I found in my research on the Chesapeake Bay, mention of the oyster industry on the West Coast and how it was already being affected by ocean acidification. I thought it would be important to look at the West Coast industry, especially if Chesapeake hatcheries begin to look to the West Coast to learn what and what not to do in the face of ocean acidification. VIMS. 2011. Dermo Fact Sheet. URL: marinus/index.php Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Glouscester Point, Virginia, USA. Accessed on 29 March 2013. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science presented a fact sheet on the Dermo parasite on their website, with follow-up links to information on MSX. These are two diseases that have affected the eastern oyster since the mid-twentieth century. The site was useful in providing information on when the diseases were discovered in the Chesapeake, theory on where they came from, how they have affected the eastern oyster, and the response in the region to these parasites. These diseases have had an enormous impact on the eastern oyster, and factored into the historical significance of the oyster in the Bay, when talking about its decline and recent restoration projects. The site was fairly specific in covering

important data on the parasites, as well as control and monitoring measures implemented by the industry. VIMS. 2011. Virginia Oyster Industry. URL: Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Glouscester Point, Virginia, USA. Accessed on 11 March 2013. The article, Virginias Oyster Industry Taking Proactive Steps to Stay on Top, was published in November of 2011 on the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences website. The article covers a workshop that took place in October of 2011 on the oyster industry and the potential impact from ocean acidification. Members from the major oyster hatcheries in Virginia and representatives from hatcheries in the West Coast were led in discussion by a VIMS specialist to talk about the impacts acidification has had on the West Coast oyster industry and discuss what could be done in the Chesapeake to prevent similar losses. The article addresses solutions such as increased monitoring and continuing to look to the West Coast as an example on how to proceed should acidification cause major losses within the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry. However, the site would have been more informative if it provided more details on how to monitor, or discussed other measures that could be taken. I also would have found it helpful and interesting if VIMS had done a follow up story to discuss what, if anything, has changed or occurred since 2011.

Welch, Craig. 2012. Oysters in deep trouble. Seattle Times (Seattle): October 12, 2012. I used this article, published in the Seattle Times in 2012, in conjunction with the article from Oregon State University, to learn about the West Coast oyster industry and impacts from ocean acidification. This story gave a little bit more detail on the recent failures in the West Coast industry, pointing out that there have been five consecutive years (as of the summer of 2012) when oysters have been unable to successfully produce larvae. The article does list acidification as a viable option, but discusses other potential factors, such as dead zones in coastal areas, or seawater upwellings. The article does a good job in presenting the point of view and concerns of the oystermen in the region and how the decline of the oyster industry in the West Coast will have a variety of negative impacts. These impacts include economic losses, the ripple effects on other species in the watershed and subsequent effects, and the loss of livelihoods. These concerns are likely to be similar for oystermen of the Chesapeake Bay, so it was interesting to hear this perspective. Being a newspaper article, one wouldnt expect to see many references, but I would have liked to see where the writer was getting his information, and what studies were involved.

Reflection Climate change has become a major global issue in the current century as more about the effects of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO) has come to light. Humans have contributed significantly to levels of CO in the atmosphere, and this trend is expected to grow in upcoming decades. By 2050 - 2100, current CO levels of 380 parts per million (ppm) are expected to exceed 500 ppm. Projected increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will have lasting effects on marine environments through climate change and ocean acidification. As sea temperatures rise and pH levels decrease, a large number of marine and estuarine organisms, especially calcifying species, will be affected (Doney, et. al, 2008). A species of particular concern is the eastern oyster (Crassotrea virginica). In acidified and corrosive waters, the eastern oyster will be unable to form its shell, or will form weaker shells that make the species more susceptible to predation. Eventually, the oyster will be unable to produce successful larvae, should acidification increase beyond the oysters tolerance level. (Nash, 2013). As a keystone species in the Chesapeake Bay, eastern oysters, and the issue of acidification in its habitat, have become a topic of growing concern. The eastern oyster and its associated industry have taken many hard hits in the last century due to overharvesting, sedimentation, and the introduction of two parasites, MSX and Dermo. In particular, these diseases have wiped out entire populations and have had an incredible impact on the livelihoods of Chesapeake watermen (NOAA, 2013). Replanting of oyster reefs and restoration centers have contributed to a recovery of the industry in recent years (CBF, 2013). Oyster aquaculture is on the rise as major hatcheries in Virginia and Maryland raise and distribute disease-resistant larvae. The fate

of the oysters from climate change, including acidification of the Bay, has become such a high stakes question (Nash, 2012) because of the rise and re-growth of native oyster populations and the industry. Studies on the effects acidification is having or could have on the eastern oyster are necessary for conservation and mitigation practices, and crucial for preserving the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Few studies have been conducted on the susceptibility of estuaries to ocean acidification, and even fewer on the potential impacts on the Chesapeake Bay. Of the studies that do exist, some of the findings have mixed results on the vulnerability of estuaries to acidification. One of the prominent articles on this topic include Alberto Borges and Nathalie Gypsenss 2010 article, Carbonate Chemistry in the Coastal Zone Responds More Strongly to Eutrophication than to Ocean Acidification. This article focuses on estuaries in general, and not specifically on the Chesapeake region. Borges and Gypsens found that eutrophication, likely caused by point and non-point runoff, can counter acidification in estuaries, and is more influential in affecting the carbonate chemistry in coastal zones than acidification is. Other studies, such as George Waldbussers Biocalcification in the Eastern Oyster (Crassotrea virginica) in Relation to Long-term Trends in Chesapeake Bay pH, include different findings. Waldbusser found that the Bay has a large variation in acidity, and that polyhaline waters of the Bay had become more acidic between 1985 and 2008. Replicating pH conditions of some of the more saline areas of the Bay in the laboratory, Waldbusser found that oyster shells were corroding. His findings signify that some Chesapeake waters may already be unsuitable for oyster shell preservation. Waldbusser

attributes acidifying waters to agricultural and sewage runoff from tributaries, into the Bay. Looking at the Waldbusser study, the direct and immediate impact affecting the Bay is agricultural and sewage runoff. Although Borges and Gypsenss article states that eutrophication may act as a buffer against ocean acidification, increased runoff should not be used as a solution. Regardless of which study one looks at, land-based pollution threats need to be minimized. Whether or not eutrophication contributes to acidification or counters it, increased sediment is still detrimental for the eastern oyster, among other species, and is already a major issue in the watershed. Current policies focusing on reducing nutrient loads through agricultural runoff and sewage systems should be ramped up to protect the eastern oyster and other species within the Bay. Other ways to reduce non-point pollution and runoff would be education of the farmers within the watershed that contribute to this issue. Introduction of best management practices (BMPs), can reduce runoff and eutrophication. The introduction of BMPs should cover two major points: education and incentives. Informing the farmer of the impacts his or her practices have and how these could be changed is essential. Perhaps creating personal connections between the watermen and the farmer could help with this. Giving the farmer an incentive will make the implementation of BMPs more effective and realistic. Should agricultural landowners know that most sustainable practices would end up saving the farmer money in the long run, as well as reduce sediment loads to the Bay, perhaps they will be more likely to change their practices for the better.

In terms of ocean acidification from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, a lot of uncertainty revolves around if and how much the Bay will be impacted. A variety of factors, such as variability of pH throughout the Bay, and adaptability of species, make it unclear to predict the changes acidification could have on the ecosystem (Waldbusser, 2011). Uncertainty should cause local watermen and national politicians to err on the side of caution. Given that acidification has already had a detrimental impact on the oyster industry on the West Coast, it is not unlikely that similar outcomes could occur in the Chesapeake (OSU, 2012). Workshops, such as that hosted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2011, should be expanded and repeated. This workshop brought together Virginia hatchery representatives with actors from the Pacific Coast industry. Discussion allowed the Virginia watermen to learn lessons from the West Coast and talk about potential solutions. Increases in water quality and chemistry monitoring should be put into practice, not just at the hatcheries, but also with the small-scale oyster farmers. From here, those involved in aquaculture can try to find ways to prevent or prepare for losses of oyster populations, as occurred out West in recent seasons. The long-term solution to this issue lies with our national politicians and their ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Acidification can only truly be prevented or made less severe if we cut our dependence on fossil fuel and learn to change certain fuelintensive lifestyle choices, made possible through personal choices and through implementation of harsher laws and regulations. As one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States and our political leaders could have a major influence in slowing down acidification and associated impacts on biodiversity. Obviously this is a complicated issue within our own government and society, yet would

be the most influential solution, and the best way to prevent acidification and preserve the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.

Works Cited Borges, A. and Gypens, Nathalie. Carbonate chemistry in the coastal zone responds more strongly to eutrophication than to ocean acidification. Limonology and Oceanography 55: 346- 353. CBF. 2013. Oyster restoration centers. URL: Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Accessed 11 March 2013. Doney, S. et. al. Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem. Annual Review of Marine Science 1: 69- 92. Nash, SP. 2012. An acidifying estuary? The other CO2 Problem. Chesapeake Quarterly 11. NOAA. 2013. Oyster reefs. URL: Chesapeake Bay Office. Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Accessed 3 April 2013. Oregon State University. 2012. Hatchery, OSU scientists link ocean acidification to larval oyster failure. URL: Accessed 2 April 2013. VIMS. 2011. Virginia Oyster Industry. URL: Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Glouscester Point, Virginia, USA. Accessed on 11 March 2013. Waldbusser, G. et al. 2011. Biocalcification in the eastern oyster (crassostrea virginica) in relation to long-term trends in Chesapeake bay pH. Estuaries & Coasts 34: 221-231.