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Across the globe, discussions centered on the value of nature drive many conservation and restoration decisions. As a result, justification for management activities increasingly asks for two lines of evidence: (1) biological proof of augmented ecosystem function or service, and (2) monetary valuation of these services. For oyster reefs, which have seen significant global declines and increasing restoration work, the need to provide both biological and monetary evidence of reef services on a local-level has become more critical in a time of declining resources. Here, we quantified species biomass and potential commercial value of nekton collected from restored oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reefs in coastal Louisiana over a 3-year period, providing multiple snapshots of biomass support over time. Overall, and with little change over time, fish and invertebrate biomass is 212% greater at restored oyster reefs than mud-bottom, or 0.12 kg m−2. The additional biomass of commercial species is equivalent to an increase of local fisheries value by 226%, or $0.09 m−2. Understanding the ecosystem value of restoration projects, and how they interact with regional management priorities, is critical to inform local decision-making and provide testable predictions. Quantitative estimates of potential commercial fisheries enhancement by oyster reef restoration such as this one can be used directly by local managers to determine the expected return on investment.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 License.