Crassostrea virginica (family Ostreidae) is a prolific member of estuaries on the eastern coast of the Americas (Meyers and Townsend 2000, Wilson et al. 2005). The shell of the eastern oyster is thick, flattened, and highly variable in shape. It grows from round (irregular) to oval and usually bears concentric ridges. The exterior color of the shell is dirty white to gray while the interior is bright white with a deep purple or red-brown muscle scar (Kay 1979).C. virginica is a key structural component of estuaries (Berquist et al. 2006) playing a major role in the function of estuary ecosystems (Dame 1972). Large beds provide habitat for numerous fish and invertebrate species, reduce water turbidity through filter-feeding, and physically serve as filter removing large material from the water as it passes over the reef (Meyers and Townsend 2000, Berquist et al. 2006). The eastern oyster has been selected as a çnatural resource of ecological significanceç and methods for management are currently being developed (see the Introduction to Oyster Reefs for more information) (Wilson et al. 2005).
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