Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Phil Devries

Second Advisor

Tom Soniat

Third Advisor

Carla Penz

Fourth Advisor

Jerry Howard

Fifth Advisor

Mahdi Abdelguerfi


The Louisiana oyster industry is greatly impacted by freshwater and sediment diversions that are part of the effort to restore the state’s coastline. A habitat suitability index (HSI) proposes species-habitat relationships that can be instrumental in creating impact assessments and suitability predictions for management as new diversions are implemented. An oyster (Crassostrea virginica) HSI was developed using three variables crucial to oyster sustainability: average annual salinity, minimum monthly salinity, and average salinity during the spawning season. These Legacy HSI visualizations show annual fluctuations in the distribution of zones suitable for oyster cultivation prior to proposed diversions in Pontchartrain and Barataria Basins from 1967 to 2016. Modeling suitability based upon these variables can provide crucial information for timing the use of diversions to lessen harmful effects upon the oyster industry as well as indicate new potentially suitable areas that the diversions may create.


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