Sturbridge resident researches effects of
shellfish aquaculture on Narragansett Bay
KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 12, 2000 -- Sturbridge, Mass., resident
Monique Perron, a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island, spent her
summer vacation assessing the value of shellfish aquaculture on water quality.
Working with URI Fisheries Professor Michael Rice and graduate student
Jennifer Mugg, Perron's goal was to demonstrate the beneficial qualities
of cultivated oysters in Narragansett Bay. "Our objective was
to prove that aquaculture bivalves enhance the water quality of Narragansett
Bay," Perron said.
"Urban and coastal developments have been producing excessive nitrogen
levels in the bay, steadily damaging the water quality," Perron said.
Counteracting this process, natural populations of bivalves have been known
to recycle and remove nutrients, thereby improving water quality. However,
the effects of aquaculture raised bivalves demand more research.
This required Perron to conduct thorough data collection. The oysters
for her research were grown in six mesocosms (water tanks) that simulate
the environmental conditions of the bay.
Her data sampling included testing each mesocosm for water flow rates
and traces of ammonia, nitrate, chlorophyll, and sediment carbon. Other
data collection involved the basic water quality testing of salinity, temperature,
and dissolved oxygen. Lastly, Perron monitored the growth rates of each
oyster weekly. "A tiresome process because there were about 600 of
them," Perron said.
During the study, Perron learned many important skills. "I learned
various aspects of the job that involved tasks such as making solutions
for testing, conducting methods of testing, and fixing equipment,"
Overall, Perron stated that she enjoyed her learning experience and the
people she worked with. "The graduate student that I work with is
now a friend," Perron said. "It's obviously much easier to work
and learn from someone you know and understand. She taught me a lot about
Perron's research was sponsored by the URI Coastal Fellowship Program,
a unique program designed to involve undergraduate students in addressing
current environmental problems, and funded by URI Cooperative Extension.
Now in its fifth year, the Coastal Fellowship Program teams students with
URI faculty, research staff and graduate students to help undergraduates
gain skills that will ensure their future success.
"The program has helped me gain valuable experience for my future
in marine biology, and I intend to participate in more research before I
graduate in May 2003," Perron said. "I hope my current study
confirms that aquaculture oysters are indeed beneficial to water quality
and, at the very least, provides data for continuing research."
For Information: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892, Keith Marshall