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Can Suminoe Oysters Save Chesapeake Bay?

Co Authors:

Valerie Nieman
Department of English
North Carolina A&T State University

Zhi-Jun Liu
Department of Geography
University of North Carolina—Greensboro


This dilemma case explores the controversy over introducing non-native oysters to the Chesapeake Bay as a means of improving its ecological and economic health. Developed for use in an interdisciplinary doctoral program in energy and environmental studies, it could be adapted for undergraduate courses ranging from ecology and biology to political science and geography. The case introduces students to the various stakeholders and their positions from the point of view of a senator who must cast the deciding vote on whether or not to introduce Suminoe oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) into the bay. Students read the case, then work in small groups to develop a stakeholder position, which they later role-play in class in a simulated public hearing.

  • Learn about the physical factors contributing to the degradation of the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Realize the ecological impact of human activities in the bay watershed.
  • Understand the social and political costs of efforts to reverse environmental degradation—and the costs of doing nothing.
  • Understand how a stakeholder’s situation will lead him or her to a specific view on an issue, and how these views conflict as people seek a consensus.
Keywords: Chesapeake Bay; Suminoe oyster; Crassostrea ariakensis; native Eastern oyster; water pollution; nutrient loading; introduced species; Massachusetts
Topical Area: Social issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Dilemma/Decision, Public Hearing, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Environmental Science   Ecology   Natural Resource Management   Geography   Hydrology  
Date Posted: 02/22/06
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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Supplemental Materials

This case includes a PowerPoint presentation on the hydrology and ecology of Chesapeake Bay.

  Chesapeake Bay Power Point

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