Oysters face many contemporary stressors in the wild, including predation, habitat suitability, food availability and a warming and increasingly acidic ocean.
At the University of Adelaide we are investigating multiple life stages of our native flat oyster in order to maximise the growth and performance of the restored reef over time. Other research priorities include quantifying the environmental and socio-economic benefits of oyster reef restoration, and investigating how these oysters will perform in under future ocean conditions.
Immediate research priorities include an improved understanding of the flat oyster’s reproductive timing, including the identification of peak spawning and recruitment periods throughout the year. We are also determining the preferred substrate and environmental conditions that encourage flat oyster recruitment, allowing us to maximise the recruitment of baby oysters to the restored reef. We are conducting this research with the help of local oyster farmers on the Yorke Peninsula who are keen to develop their flat oyster industry. We are keen to share our knowledge with the local community as their involvement in the reef restoration will be pivotal for it’s long term success.
Quantifying the benefits of oyster restoration is a major research priority so we can advocate for future restoration projects. The production of fish, the water-cleaning capacity, and the enhancement of biodiversity by the oyster habitat will be quantified as the reef develops. Building a case for oyster restoration as essential blue infrastructure that can improve marine ecosystem health is a key goal of our research.