Data from an Ecosystem Services Assessment of Shellfish Aquaculture in North Carolina

Data Resource
November 2020

A 2016 – 2020 collaborative research project assessed ecosystem services associated with oyster farms by measuring impacts of newly established shellfish aquaculture among intertidal and subtidal grow-out sites in North Carolina. The science team conducted two years of intensive field sampling in and adjacent to aquaculture operations, concentrating on wild shellfish resources and the physical and chemical environment, with an aim to link small scale perturbations (i.e., organic enrichment, oyster physiological stress biomarkers) with larger scale ecosystem-level alterations. The team also collected data on culture oyster physiology using controlled lab experiments and combined this with field data on environmental drivers and farm practices from three sites.

These data were incorporated into farm-scale models to calculate production and nitrogen sequestration by oyster farms using different scenarios typical to North Carolina. Project outputs included data, visualization tools, and models to allow resource managers and oyster growers to achieve outcomes of effective decision-making on locations and scales of aquaculture operations.

About the datasets

The project team collected data from oyster farms and natural oyster reefs near Wilmington and Sneads Ferry, NC between 2016 and 2019. The sampling design and parameters measured are described in detail in this dataset description. The project produced five related datasets:

  1. Wild resource (oyster) data from reefs potentially impacted and not impacted by oyster aquaculture
  2. Environmental data from sites with and without oyster aquaculture
  3. Ecological data from sites with and without oyster aquaculture
  4. FARM model inputs
  5. FARM model outputs

Data access and archival 

The datasets for this project have been archived with the NERRS Centralized Data Management Office and will be made publically available in fall 2022 through a request form accessible on this page. Prior to fall 2022, individuals may reach out to the project lead to discuss potential collaborations and applications of the data.

Questions about these datasets can be directed to:

Elizabeth S. Darrow, Head Island Conservancy, Email:

Learn more about the project(s) and related resources: