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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 341:303-307 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps341303

Ecosystem services related to oyster restoration

Loren D. Coen1,*, Robert D. Brumbaugh2,**, David Bushek3, Ray Grizzle4, Mark W. Luckenbach5, Martin H. Posey6, Sean P. Powers7, S. Gregory Tolley8

1South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Marine Resources Research Institute, 217 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
2The Nature Conservancy, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett Bay Campus, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882-1197, USA
3Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers University, 6959 Miller Avenue, Port Norris, New Jersey 08349, USA
4Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, 85 Adams Point Road, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA
5Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, College of William and Mary, PO Box 350, Wachapreague, Virginia 23480, USA
6Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403, USA
7Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama, and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, 101 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528, USA
8Florida Gulf Coast University, Coastal Watershed Institute, 10501 FGCU Blvd South, Fort Myers, Florida 33965, USA
**Authors after Coen in alphabetical order

ABSTRACT: The importance of restoring filter-feeders, such as the Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, to mitigate the effects of eutrophication (e.g. in Chesapeake Bay) is currently under debate. The argument that bivalve molluscs alone cannot control phytoplankton blooms and reduce hypoxia oversimplifies a more complex issue, namely that ecosystem engineering species make manifold contributions to ecosystem services. Although further discussion and research leading to a more complete understanding is required, oysters and other molluscs (e.g. mussels) in estuarine ecosystems provide services far beyond the mere top-down control of phytoplankton blooms, such as (1) seston filtration, (2) benthic–pelagic coupling, (3) creation of refugia from predation, (4) creation of feeding habitat for juveniles and adults of mobile species, and for sessile stages of species that attach to molluscan shells, and (5) provision of nesting habitat.

KEY WORDS: Crassostrea virginica · Restoration · Chesapeake Bay · Filter-feeders · Water quality · Ecosystem services

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