Theses and Dissertations


Title: Assessment of Oyster Habitat in Mobile Bay, Alabama Using Index Modeling, Geographic Information Systems, and Computational Fluid Dynamic Modeling

Name: Rodgers, Leonard James

Degree: PhD

Chair: David B. Rouse

Resides:

University: Auburn University

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Date: 2001

Pages: 84

Keywords: GIS,HIS,oyster,habitat,fisheries management

Abstract:

The need to quantify habitat and to index the salient qualities of habitat is growing in importance in resource management. One method is to use habitat suitability index models (HSI) to spatially delineate the essential habitat through its key features. This dissertation implements an HSI for Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in an estuarine environment. Typically, extremely simplified methods have been incorporated into HSI models, such as, using the mean of monthly water samples from a very limited number of fixed sights. These methods are inadequate. How then should the investigator estimate highly dynamic spatial variables such as: temperature, salinity, and hydraulic flux? The current study employed a two dimensional computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model to calculate a measure of central tendency and a variance for major hydrodynamic variables of oyster habitat. Spatial data from several sources were combined with the CFD to determine suitability indices. Using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service geometric mean method and HSI was calculated. Dynamic HSI models were calculated annually and seasonally over three river discharge scenarios to test and demonstrate the concept. The results were plotted using a Geographical Information System (GIS). The model functioned as expected, and the results conformed to the observed distributions and abundances of oysters in Mobile Bay. This methodology, while complex and computer intensive, is potentially useful in resource management and planning. It could also be used as a predictive tool, forecasting the effects of such things as channel dredging, dam discharge, and possibly even global climate change on living estuarine resources.

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