Hard Clam Research Initiative
Research

Following completion of the three research projects supported under the Hard Clam Research Initiative's first phase (2000 - 2003), the Initiative is beginning a second phase (2004 - 2005) with additional funding from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. Based on the findings of the first projects and input from the Hard Clam Initiative Advisory Committee, a new request for proposals was developed and released. Technical and programmatic review identified the next top two studies for funding.

This multi-year effort is providing science-based information to agencies and organizations currently directing considerable attention toward restoring the hard clam populations in NY's south shore estuaries.



2004 - 2005 Research Projects

The Effects of Brown Tide and Plankton Quality on Hard Clam Larval Growth and Survivorship (Padilla/Gobler)
7/1/2004-6/30/2005 R/FBM-28
The impact of brown tide on hard clam larvae is unknown, but may be an important factor in the potential for recovery of hard clam populations. This project will test whether larval growth, development, and survivorship are inhibited by different strains and concentrations of brown tide and other microalgae. If the larvae are very sensitive, then clam population recovery and restoration efforts will be impeded by continued occurrence of this harmful algal bloom.

A Modeling Study of the Growth, Survival and Recruitment of Hard Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) Larval and Post-Settlement Populations (Hofmann/Bricelj/Buckner/Klink/Kraeuter/Powell)
8/15/2004-8/14/2005 R/FBM-29
This project will build on a hard clam population model developed with previous NYSG funding, adding a larval component and examining changes in predation pressure. The results of simulation runs will provide information about the most important factors affecting hard clam recruitment and predictions about the feasibility of broodstock sanctuaries and other enhancement efforts.

Other NYSG-funded hard clam studies:

Analysis of Field Plantings of Young Cultured Hard Clams, Mercenaria mercenaria (Linne), in Long Island, NY (Rivara/Cerrato/Barnes/Aldred)
2/1/2002 - 8/31/2004 R/ATD-10
This project will help scientists and managers evaluate aspects of young hard clam stocking into various Long Island waters. This research team is evaluating stock recovery trade-offs between growth, survivorship and the effects on productivity to determine whether more small-sized seed planted earlier in the year can be as effective as less, larger seed planted later.

Isolation of the Pathogen from New York Clams and Genetic Variability in the Host-Parasite System of QPX Disease in Mercenaria mercenaria (Allam/Dove)
2/01/2004-1/31/2006 R/FBF-17
Little is known about the protistan parasite QPX's etiology in the commercially important hard clam Mercenaria, mercenaria. Research thus far suggests that genetic variability in the host and/or in the QPX pathogen could be responsible for differences in susceptibility toward the infection and in the presentation of the disease. Molecular genetic tools and infection transmission experiments will be employed to address the genetic variability in the QPX disease system.



2000 -2003 Research Projects

Relationships between the Timing of Reproduction, Fecundity, and Egg Composition to Declines in Hard Clam Recruitment (Newell/Tettelbach/Gobler)
R/FBM-22 9/1/2000 - 4/30/2003
Hard clams do not build a nutrient reserve during the previous fall for their spring reproductive cycle; instead, they rely on immediately acquired nutrients to sustain reproduction. To help resource managers with short- and long-term goals, this project is studying the reproductive cycles of adult hard clams in Long Island’s south shore bays to determine if they are synchronized to normal patterns of primary production.

The Trophic Interaction Between Hard Clams and Natural Assemblages of Phytoplankton (Cerrato/Lopez/Lonsdale/Flood/ Armstrong/Levinton)
R/FBM-23 9/1/2000 - 7/31/2003
Due to reduced abundance, hard clam grazing may no longer exert a controlling influence on phytoplankton; consequently, phytoplankton population dynamics may have changed considerably. This project will determine whether hard clams can improve their own food quality by intense grazing on a diverse phytoplankton assemblage.

Modeling Hard Clam Growth, Survival and Environmental Interactions: What are the Controlling Factors? (Hofmann/Klinck/Kraeuter/Powell/Grizzle /Bricelj/Buckner)
R/FBM-24 9/1/2000 - 4/30/2003
This project will develop a population growth model for hard clams that will permit evaluation of the potential effects of changes in biological (brown tide and harvesting) and environmental components (temperature and salinity) of the Great South Bay system on the resident hard clam population levels and production.

Other NYSG-funded hard clam studies:

Analysis of Field Plantings of Young Cultured Hard Clams, Mercenaria mercenaria (Linne), in Long Island, NY (Rivara/Cerrato/Barnes/Aldred)
R/ATD-10 2/1/2002 - 1/31/2004
This project will help scientists and managers evaluate aspects of young hard clam stocking into various Long Island waters. This research team is evaluating stock recovery trade-offs between growth, survivorship and the effects on productivity to determine whether more small-sized seed planted earlier in the year can be as effective as less, larger seed planted later.

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