Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Richard Burroughs


Salt marshes in their natural form provide innumerable ecologic, economic, and aesthetic benefits to coastal communities. Salt marsh restoration projects have been implemented along coastal landscapes in an attempt to reclaim their original ecosystem services. The ecological and social components of restoration, like its connection to the shellfish industry, are well understood, but the inherent linkages between the components are not. Through the co-evaluation of these components, social and ecologic linkages are identified and assessed.

This project explores the shellfish industry of five outer Cape Cod towns containing salt marshes that have undergone restoration: Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown. Salinity data was used to determine the ecologic success of Hatches Harbor (Provincetown), East Harbor (Truro), Herring River (Wellfleet), Sunken Meadow (Eastham), and Namskaket Creek (Orleans). Annual town harvest reports were used to determine trends in quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria), soft shell clam (Mya arenaria) and oyster (Crassostrea virginica) populations. Shellfish constables, experts in marsh restoration, and shellfishermen were contacted to determine ecologic and social variables in the explored linkage.

This project determined the robust social link between salt marsh restoration and the shellfishing industry. The hypothesis that restoration and associated ecosystem services augment shellfish harvest is lacking. The sense of community and culture that rallies around both salt marsh restoration and shellfishing, however, proves that the link between ecologic and social understanding is important, since both play a valuable role in the community.



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