Past ecological states of oyster beds in the North Sea
The European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) has been a keystone species in the North Sea, but became functionally extinct in the early 20th century due to overfishing and disease. This project investigates the age and structure of sublittoral oyster beds (Ostrea edulis) in the open North Sea in order to better understand past ecological states and potential environmental stressors leading up to the regional collapse of an important sublittoral filter feeder. This has implications for benchmarking baseline conditions in restorative efforts of Ostrea habitats. PESO commenced in summer 2019 and uses an interdisciplinary approach combining geoscientific methods with expertise in restoration ecology. The project is funded by the AWI section “Coastal Ecology” and is conducted in close collaboration with RESTORE.