The continued lack of recovery of the United States west coast populations of the Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida† Carpenter 1864, has piqued recent interest in restoration projects. Because local population persistence is influenced by many factors, including larval settlement, information about the magnitude and timing of settlement will provide valuable contributions to such restoration efforts. We examined larval settlement as a function of season and also monitored water temperature, which is reported to influence settlement timing by cueing synchronized male spawning and subsequent larval settlement. Previous literature, based on an anomalous open coast population, found that settlement of O. lurida in La Jolla, CA occurred once seawater reached a temperature of 16°C. To observe variation over seasons in larval settlement density relative to temperature within the more common estuarine habitat in southern California, we placed ceramic tiles in two locations within Upper Newport Bay, Newport, California and in two locations within Aqua Hedionda Lagoon, Carlsbad, California. Temperature data were also collected at each site throughout the sampling period. Tiles were collected and oyster spat counted every two weeks during spring tides to pinpoint pulses in settlement. Settlement in Upper Newport Bay occurred from May until November with peak settlement in June and ranged from 0.0 oysters/m2 to 1,179 ± 344.8 oysters/m2 at Coney Island and 0.0 oysters/m2 to 511 ± 216.4 oysters/m2 at Newport Wall. In Aqua Hedionda Lagoon, settlement occurred from June until February with peak settlement in June and ranged from 0.0 oysters/m2 to 339 ± 53.7 oysters/m2 at Aqua Hedionda site 1 and 0.0 oysters/m2 to 108 ± 37.3 oysters/m2 at Aqua Hedionda site 2. Whereas oyster settlement did occur at all of our study sites, we did not observe a universal temperature that correlated with the initiation and termination of oyster settlement, nor any significant correlations linking water temperature with peaks in settlement.
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Vol. 28 • No. 1