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The impacts of pre-winter conditioning on the survival, growth, and reproductive yield of the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) cultivated in suspension



The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is subjected to pronounced seasonality at its northernmost distribution limit in Atlantic Canada. After spawning in July, oysters feed intensively until November in order to prepare for reproduction and the build-up of energy reserves. This process is called pre-winter conditioning.

Oysters resume feeding in the spring and the bulk of their energy intake is seemingly allocated towards shell formation. Shell growth is highly variable, poorly understood, and can be particularly low in some stocks/years. Two questions are raised:

  1. Does incomplete conditioning over the summer-autumn period, due to variable causes (natural or husbandry-related), result in a continuation of the conditioning process the following spring?
  2. Does such extended conditioning (and the energy allocation because of it) occur at the expense of shell formation?

This project will determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between pre-winter conditioning and the subsequent growth and reproductive performance of oysters. Results from this project will provide information crucial to evolving best management practices for the oyster aquaculture industry.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2015 - 2018

Principal Investigator(s)

Luc Comeau
Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Gulf Fisheries Centre, Gulf Region

Team Member(s)

Denise Méthé, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Fisheries Centre, Gulf Region

Collaborative Partner(s)

Léon Lanteigne, L2 - Recherche et Production Aquacole Inc.

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