River Diversions and Wetland Loss of the Mississippi River Delta and the Associated Effects on Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in Louisiana, USA

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Steffen Schmidt

Second Advisor

Patricia Blackwelder


The state of Louisiana faces a coastal crisis that affects not only the local communities, but also the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Anthropogenic influences over the decades have forever altered the course of the Mississippi River and the structure of the delta that greatly correlates to the growth and erosion of the Gulf of Mexico coastline. This region is home to one of the most productive oyster grounds in the United States and the construction of levees and diversions has reduced the habitat available for these organisms. Strategies proposed by plans like the 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast implements the use of sediment diversions to rebuild land on the coast. However, this could have an impact on oysters, but few studies analyze the pros and cons diversions may have on them. To gain a better understanding on the topic, past and current literature is reviewed and summarized. Research suggests that the use of diversions will cause oyster grounds and its farmers to migrate with little influence to the production levels. Both policy makers and scientists continue to argue about the methods and actions needed to mediate the problem. If investments are not made in the act of restoration then a greater price will be paid in the future.

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