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

Gillies, Chris, McLeod, Ian, Alleway, Heidi K., Cook, Peter, Crawford, Christine, Creighton, Colin, Diggles, Ben, Ford, John, Hamer, Paul, Heller-Wagner, Gideon, Lebrault, Emma, Le Port, Agnes, Russell, Kylie, Sheaves, Marcus, and Warnock, Bryn (2018) Australian shellfish ecosystems: past distribution, current status and future direction. PLoS ONE, 13 (2).

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Abstract

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 ID: 55349
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Copyright Information: Copyright: © 2018 Gillies et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
ISSN: 1932-6203
Funders: National Environmental Science Programme (NESP), Nature Conservancy, Thomas Foundation
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2018 03:04
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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