Benthic Ecology Laboratory

Future Projects

GIS Siting Tool Suitability Model


Shellfish aquaculture in North Carolina is a small, yet traditionally important industry to coastal communities, providing locally grown clams, oysters, and supplemental income. While no single issue appears to have limited the growth of the industry, current growers and other stakeholders have cited several obstacles in obtaining a lease:
1) lack of knowledge about the industry
2) lack of information regarding feasible site locations
3) trouble identifying growing areas with long-term suitability
According to the 2007 USDA census of agriculture, 85 farms reported sales of cultured product, yet production from NC represented only 1.1% of the total value for all shellfish produced along the East Coast.
As a potential solution to these issues, we are designing a Habitat Suitability Model to assist in the lease siting process. This habitat suitability index uses a similar method to that developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in its original habitat models.