Age variability and decadal time-averaging in oyster reef death assemblages

Stephen R. Durham, Gregory P. Dietl, Quan Hua, John C. Handley, Darrell Kaufman, Cheryl P. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using paleoecological data to inform resource management decisions is challenging without an understanding of the ages and degrees of time-averaging in molluscan death assemblage (DA) samples. We illustrate this challenge by documenting the spatial and stratigraphic variability in age and time-averaging of oyster reef DAs. By radiocarbon dating a total of 630 oyster shells from samples at two burial depths on 31 oyster reefs around Florida, southeastern United States, we found that (1) spatial and stratigraphic variability in DA sample ages and time-averaging is of similar magnitude, and (2) the shallow oyster reef DAs are among the youngest and highest-resolution molluscan DAs documented to date, with most having decadal-scale time-averaging estimates, and sometimes less. This information increases the potential utility of the DAs for habitat management because DA data can be placed in a more specific temporal context relative to real-time monitoring data. More broadly, the results highlight the potential to obtain decadal-scale resolution from oyster bioherms in the fossil record.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1071
Number of pages5
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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