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Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland Claire Guy and Dai Roberts The Queen’s University Belfast.

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Presentation on theme: "Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland Claire Guy and Dai Roberts The Queen’s University Belfast."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland Claire Guy and Dai Roberts The Queen’s University Belfast

2 Outline Background information on the oysters in Strangford Current research Future research Conclusions

3 Historic oyster populations in Strangford O. edulis Stock decline in Strangford Lough Human population increase – Increase in consumption – Habitat degradation – Pollution Official inquiry into stock levels in 1877 Cessation of oyster fishery by 1903 Alternative species for commercial industry was sought in the 1970s…. Ostrea edulis

4 Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

5 Introduction of C. gigas to Strangford Lough Introduced in the 1970s Laid out on trestles in the northern lough Water temperatures thought to be too low to facilitate reproduction Initial introduction site

6 PhD Research 1.Ascertain the distribution of C. gigas within Strangford Lough 2.Settlement substratum preference observation and investigation 3.Population structure 4.Biodiversity supported by the two species 5.Initiation of C. gigas removal 6.Gametogenesis 7.Management options

7 1. Distribution Aim – To ascertain if there has been any spread of C. gigas outside the licensed aquaculture sites in Strangford Lough

8 Distribution Methods - 30 intertidal sites surveyed covering both the northern and southern basin - 100m transects placed at 0m, 1m and 2m of tidal elevation parallel to the low water mark m -2 quadrat placed on alternating sides of the transect every 4m C. gigas and O. edulis present Only O. edulis present Only C. gigas present No oysters present The initial introduction site

9 Distribution and Density The densities in m -2 of C. gigas in the 30 sites sampled in Strangford Lough 2008 with 95% confidence limits

10 Distribution Colonisation mostly contained within the northern basin Highly positive correlation between the populations of both species Suggesting that the hydrodynamic regime is the strongest influencing factor

11 Distribution – Future Work Repeat surveys Extend survey area to include more intertidal sites Extend survey to encompass subtidal sites Start work on modelling larval movement within the lough

12 2. Settlement Aim – To investigate and compare the settlement preferences of the two oyster species

13 Settlement The percent of C. gigas (open columns) and O. edulis (shaded columns) settled on the different substratum types

14 Settlement Significant differences between the numbers of C. gigas and O. edulis settled on different substrata (χ ; d.f. 1; P <0.0001) The initial attachment substratum not identifiable with many O. edulis Substrate availability not likely to be a limiting factor

15 Settlement – Future Work Continue adding to dataset when conducting distribution surveys Run trials using multi-surface spat collectors

16 3. Population Structure Aim – To gain insight into the size frequency of C. gigas within Strangford Lough in order to ascertain if the species is successfully breeding every year.

17 Population Structure The contribution of different sizes of the oysters in the populations. C. gigas (open columns) and O. edulis (shaded columns)

18 Population Structure C. gigas has several peaks with small numbers in between Suggests irregular recruitment Generally higher densities of smaller O. edulis suggesting successful reproduction over recent years

19 Population Structure – Future Work Continue adding to data set when conducting distribution surveys Determine age using acetate peel analysis on more shells Then link the age/length data to temperature data to see which years the species successfully reproduced

20 4. Biodiversity Aim – To ascertain if there are any differences between the communities of epibiota found present on the different shells

21 Biodiversity Look at the species living the upper and lower valves of both species Compare epibiota present on the 2 oyster species and between similar sized rocks

22 Biodiversity Preliminary work has been carried out by an honours student in 2007 Results look interesting Want to extend the investigation to include more sites Relate to age data from acetate peel analysis to make the findings more insightful Use PRIMER to analyse findings

23 5. C. gigas removal funded by DARD Aim – To initiate the first attempt of C. gigas management during early phase invasion

24 C. gigas removal funded by DARD How much information is required before management policy can be initiated? (Simberloff 2003) Take advantage of the lag period when populations are slowly increasing

25 The Allee Effect The positive correlation between population density and the growth rate of the population Initial low Allee effect in first introduction site High Allee effect in newly colonised areas

26 Methodology

27 C. gigas removal A. Number killed, B. mean oyster density m 2 in 2008 (open columns) and 2009 (shaded columns) A B

28 Removal – Future Work Continue annual cull Analyse if differences in population densities are statistically significant Investigate the effect of the nearest neighbour distances-intrinsically linked to the Allee effect Use O. edulis as a model organism to predict impacts on fecundity in C. gigas

29 6. Gametogenesis Aim – Ascertain the reproductive cycle of C. gigas in Strangford lough and relate this to the observed population structure and environmental factors such as temperature and nutrients

30 Gametogenesis Measurements taken: – Total wet weight – Fresh weight of flesh – Weight of visceral mass – Weight of empty shell – Tissue fixed and preserved ready for sectioning

31 Gametogenesis Embedded in JB4 Sectioned Observed under light microscope Graded using the gametogenesis index

32

33 Conclusions C. gigas is definitely able to reproduce in Strangford Lough Distribution not limited by substrate availability Distribution influenced by hydrology Successful reproduction and subsequent settlement not achieved every year

34 Management options Continue annual C. gigas removal Use of triploid oysters in any further aquaculture activities (Guy & Roberts, 2007) Removal of unused licensed aquaculture sites Do nothing and the problem is likely to keep expanding

35 Do nothing and the problem is likely to expand………. Taken at the Wadden Sea

36 Thanks! Dai Roberts Dave Smyth Fergal Glynn Rick Ayre Conor Wilson Matt Jackson

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