Differences in Relative Predation Vulnerability Between Native and Non-native Oyster Larvae and the Influence on Restoration Planning in an Estuarine Ecosystem

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


The costs and benefits of non-native introductions as a restoration tool should be estimated prior to any action to prevent both undesirable consequences and waste of restoration resources. The suggested introduction of non-native oyster species, Crassostrea ariakensis, into Chesapeake Bay, USA, provides a good example in which the survival of non-native oysters may differ from that of native oysters, Crassostrea virginica, during the larval stage. Experiments were conducted to compare the predation vulnerability of native and non-native oyster larvae to different predator types (visual vs. non-visual, benthic vs. pelagic). The results suggest that the non-native larvae are more vulnerable to visual and non-visual pelagic predators. Although vulnerability was similar for larvae exposed to benthic non-visual predators, the consumption of one non-native strain was higher than the consumption of native C. virginica larvae. When vulnerability data are combined with predator feeding rates, the predation mortality for non-native larvae in the wild can be much higher than for native larvae. Small changes in larval mortality rates can yield large changes in total larval delivery to the reef for settlement, so these differences among species may contribute to differences in settlement success. These results provide an example of how a comprehensive examination of the perceived benefits of non-native introductions into complex ecosystems can provide important information to inform management decisions.

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Estuaries and Coasts





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