Conservation and restoration of a keystone species: Understanding the settlement preferences of the European oyster (Ostrea edulis)

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The European oyster Ostrea edulis is a keystone species that is internationally recognised as ‘threatened and declining’ in the NE Atlantic by OSPAR and several nations have consequently adopted strategies for its conservation and restoration. Understanding the settlement behaviour of O. edulis larvae is crucial to inform these strategies. We compared the efficiency of several treatments in triggering settlement. The most effective settlement occurred with the presence of conspecifics: 100% settled in <23 h. Marine stones with habitat-associated biofilms induced 81% settlement that started after a 45 h delay. Sterile shells and terrestrial stones did not induce more settlement than control treatments. These results indicate that O. edulis larvae are gregarious and finely-tuned to settle in response to cues which are indicative of their adult habitat requirements. The role of chemical cues in mediating settlement, and the importance of this to restoration, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Pages (from-to)312-321
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Conservation, Keystone species, Ostrea edulis, Oyster, Restoration, Settlement

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