Introduction of Non-Native Oysters: Ecosystem Effects and Restoration Implications

Ruesink, J.L., H.S. Lenihan, A.C. Trimble, K.W. Heiman, F. Micheli, J.E. Byers, M.C. Kay

Publication Date:

Introductions can greatly enhance oyster population abundance and production, as well as populations of associated native species. However, introduced oysters are also vectors for non- native species, including disease-causing organisms. Thus, substantial population, community, and habitat changes have accompanied new oysters. In contrast, ecosystem-level consequences of oyster introductions, such as impacts on flow patterns, sediment and nutrient dynamics, and native bioengineering species, are not well understood. Eco- logical risk assessments for future introductions must emphasize probabilities of establishment, spread, and impacts on vulnerable species, communities, and ecosystem properties. Many characteristics of oysters lead to predictions that they would be successful, high-impact members of recipient ecosystems. This conclusion leaves open the discussion of whether such impacts are desirable in terms of restoration of coastal ecosystems, especially where restoration of native oysters is possible.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics