Shellfish reef ecosystems were historically overfished to near extinction and their natural recovery is inhibited by a loss of suitable substrate and recruitment. Active repair is therefore required and efforts have begun with the promise of significant benefits. These projects (and future efforts), however, require a detailed understanding of the ecology and benefits to develop appropriate repair methods and to set targets based on natural reference conditions.

This research is focused on the reef-forming shellfish complex dominated by the Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) dominated reefs, which, of the eight known reef-forming species documented in Gillies et al. (2015), are, along with Ostrea angasi (native flat oyster) the most imperilled and have the highest restoration potential.

This work will directly support and underpin the management and restoration objectives of existing shellfish reef repair projects and will assist future projects and management decision-making by developing appropriate methods and setting of repair targets based on natural reference conditions. This work will also quantify some of the benefits of shellfish reefs to inform the business case for shellfish restoration in Australia being developed as part of this project.

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