Introduced Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in the northern Wadden Sea: Invasion accelerated by warm summers?

Susanne.Diederich [ at ]


Among the increasing number of species introduced to coastal regions by man, only a few are able to establish themselves and spread in their new environments. We will show that the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) took 17 years before a large population of several million oysters became established on natural mussel beds in the vicinity of an oyster farm near the island of Sylt (northern Wadden Sea, eastern North Sea). The first oyster, which had dispersed as a larva and settled on a mussel bed, was discovered 5 years after oyster farming had commenced. Data on abundance and size-frequency distribution of oysters on intertidal mussel beds around the island indicate that recruitment was patchy and occurred only in 6 out of 18 years. Significant proportions of these cohorts survived for at least 5 years. The population slowly expanded its range from intertidal to subtidal locations as well as from Sylt north- and southwards along the coastline. Abundances of more than 300 oysters m 2 on mussel beds were observed in 2003, only after two consecutive spatfalls in 2001 and 2002. Analyses of mean monthly water temperatures indicate that recruitment coincided with above-average temperatures in July and August when spawning and planktonic dispersal occurs. We conclude that the further invasion of C. gigas in the northern Wadden Sea will depend on high late-summer water temperatures.Keywords Crassostrea gigas, Introduced species, Recruitment, Water temperature, Wadden Sea

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DOI 10.1007/s10152-004-0195-1

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Diederich, S. , Nehls, G. , van Beusekom, J. and Reise, K. (2005): Introduced Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in the northern Wadden Sea: Invasion accelerated by warm summers? , Helgoland Marine Research, 59 (2), pp. 97-106 . doi: 10.1007/s10152-004-0195-1

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