Oyster larval transport in coastal Alabama: Dominance of physical transport over biological behavior in a shallow estuary Academic Article uri icon


  • Among the various factors affecting recruitment of marine invertebrates and fish, larval transport may produce spatial and temporal patterns of abundance that are important determinants of management strategies. Here we conducted a field and modeling study to investigate the larval transport of eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, in Mobile Bay and eastern Mississippi Sound, Alabama. A three-dimensional larval transport model accounting for physical transport, biological movement of larvae, and site- and larval-specific conditions was developed. A hydrodynamic model was used to simulate physical transport, and biological movement was parameterized as a function of swimming and sinking velocity of oyster larvae. Site- and larval-specific conditions, including spawning location, spawning stock size, spawning time, and larval period, were determined based on the previous studies. The model reasonably reproduced the observed gradient in oyster spat settlement and bivalve larval concentration, although the model results were less dynamic than the data, probably owing to the simplified biological conditions employed in the model. A persistent gradient decreasing from west to east in the model results at time scales of overall average, season, and each survey in 2006 suggests that the larval supply may be responsible for the corresponding gradient in oyster spat settlement observed over the past 40 years. Biological movement increased larval retention near the spawning area, thus providing a favorable condition for local recruitment of oysters. Inclusion of biological movement, however, caused little change in the overall patterns of larval transport and still resulted in a west-east gradient, presumably because of frequent destratification in the shallow Mobile Bay system. Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geophysical Research

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, C., Park, K., Powers, S. P., Graham, W. M., & Bayha, K. M.

citation count

  • 36

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Choong‐Ki||Park, Kyeong||Powers, Sean P||Graham, William M||Bayha, Keith M

publication date

  • October 2010