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Australian shellfish ecosystems: past distribution, current status and future direction


Gillies, CL and McLeod, IM and Alleway, HK and Cook, P and Crawford, C and Creighton, C and Diggles, B and Ford, J and Hamer, P and Heller-Wagner, G and Lebrault, E and Le Port, A and Russell, K and Sheaves, M and Warnock, B, Australian shellfish ecosystems: past distribution, current status and future direction, PLoS ONE, 13, (2) Article 0190914. ISSN 1932-6203 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Gillies et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0190914


We review the status of marine shellfish ecosystems formed primarily by bivalves in Australia, including: identifying ecosystem-forming species, assessing their historical and current extent, causes for decline and past and present management. Fourteen species of bivalves were identified as developing complex, three-dimensional reef or bed ecosystems in intertidal and subtidal areas across tropical, subtropical and temperate Australia. A dramatic decline in the extent and condition of Australia’s two most common shellfish ecosystems, developed by Saccostrea glomerata and Ostrea angasi oysters, occurred during the mid-1800s to early 1900s in concurrence with extensive harvesting for food and lime production, ecosystem modification, disease outbreaks and a decline in water quality. Out of 118 historical locations containing O. angasi-developed ecosystems, only one location still contains the ecosystem whilst only six locations are known to still contain S. glomerata-developed ecosystems out of 60 historical locations. Ecosystems developed by the introduced oyster Crasostrea gigas are likely to be increasing in extent, whilst data on the remaining 11 ecosystem-forming species are limited, preventing a detailed assessment of their current ecosystem-forming status. Our analysis identifies that current knowledge on extent, physical characteristics, biodiversity and ecosystem services of Australian shellfish ecosystems is extremely limited. Despite the limited information on shellfish ecosystems, a number of restoration projects have recently been initiated across Australia and we propose a number of existing government policies and conservation mechanisms, if enacted, would readily serve to support the future conservation and recovery of Australia’s shellfish ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:oyster reef, shellfish ecosystem, habitat restoration, marine conservation
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Crawford, C (Dr Christine Crawford)
ID Code:124616
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:59
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2018-03-01
Last Modified:2022-12-06
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

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