Monitoring of Natural Populations


Multiple projects at the Reserve endeavor to understand the health of our oysters and to discover how to maximize their ability to provide ecosystem services and a sustainable food source.

Check out results from a pilot monitoring project of 200 oyster reefs in the GTM Research Reserve. These results will be used to study future changes in our local oyster populations.

Restoration and Assessment


From restoration to the assessment of living shoreline projects with our partners, the Reserve seeks to continue to participate in several science-based stewardship projects of our local oyster populations. We currently participate in and are conducting several projects focused on slowing coastal erosion or enhancing existing shoreline throughout the Reserve.

Check out some of these projects here!

Community Engagement


Linking local communities to become stewards of the GTM estuary is a primary goal of the Reserve. We integrate the most up-to-date scientific information into professional training workshops and educational programs.

We also participate in local groups such as the Oyster & Water Quality Task Force of the Guana, Tolomato, and Matanzas Rivers in order to ensure the sustainability of local oyster populations.


In response to a report of an oyster die-off from a concerned citizen, GTM NERR biologists re-assessed four oyster reefs in Robinson Creek- a tributary of the Tolomato River- that were previously monitored in 2015-16 under the GTM NERR Oyster Monitoring project. Monitoring results indicated that there was little change observed on the reefs between sampling periods except in the form of increased sedimentation. Despite this, there were visual observations of reef erosion and large shell deposits in the lower portions of the creek and in front of mangroves. These observations were also noted in other areas of the Tolomato and Guana River estuaries. This may suggest these alterations are due to physical changes in the environment (e.g., altered hydrology, increasing mangroves) and possibly long-term post-hurricane effects. Continued monitoring is planned to assess any further loss, change, and/or recovery of oyster reefs in the GTM NERR.

Latest Trends

An ongoing effort in the Reserve is monitoring monthly spat recruitment at sites throughout the estuary. Cleaned, disarticulated oyster shells are strung in pairs of six shells onto a PVC T-bar that allows the shells to hang, suspended in the water column at the same elevation of live oysters in adjacent reefs. Volunteers heavily assist in data collection for this program and we could always use the help!

Become a volunteer!

The GTM Oystermen

Oyster work is not easy. The GTM Research Reserve has been assisted by volunteers, interns, local oystermen, and visiting scientists to further our understanding of our local oyster populations. Here, we highlight a few contributors to these efforts.

Remo Mondazzi
Remo MondazziVolunteer
Assists GTM NERR biologists with oyster monitoring throughout the estuary.
Olivia Escondell
Olivia EscondellPast Intern
Studied the effects of harvest on local oyster populations
David Kimbro, PhD
David Kimbro, PhDVisiting Scientist, Northeastern University
Studies predation and growth rates of oysters in the GTM estuary.
Mike Sullivan and Phil Cubbedge
Mike Sullivan and Phil CubbedgeLocal Harvesters
Have assisted with monitoring efforts as well as provided insight into the history of local oyster populations.