Invasive Species: Oysters

An invasive oyster species (Crassostrea gigas) takes over a shoreline in northern Europe.C. S. Elton (1958), in his landmark volume on the “Ecology of Invasions” states that “But the greatest agency of all that spreads marine animals to new quarters of the world must be the business of oyster culture…”

Oysters have been distributed extensively for fishery enhancement and aquaculture purposes, and while these have contributed to extensive food production the introductions have also changed recipient ecosystems, especially where the introduced species have reproduced and become established as naturalized residents. Understanding the regionally specific population dynamics of invading oyster species provides insight into the mechanisms enabling successful establishment of invading non-native oyster species in novel locations that, in turn, drive changes in community structure and local geomorphology. In addition, given that many mid latitude estuarine and coastal environments are responding to climate change, invading species signatures can and often are exacerbated by these warming trends. Our interest in invading oysters continues a long-term interest in this subject.

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