Ecosystem engineering processes are relevant to many environmental problems and management concerns. Within the program ‘‘Building with Nature’’ (www.ecoshape.nl) we investigate the use of bivalve reefs as ecodynamic measures to protect tidal flats against erosion, which poses a serious problem in the Oosterschelde estuary (Netherlands). Bivalve reefs are ecosystem engineers that influence tidal flow and wave action and therefore modify sediment transport patterns. The development of such infrastructural solutions that aim for an integration with the natural environment can only be achieved through experimentation and learning-by-doing. Artificial oyster reefs were constructed in different erosional intertidal environments in the Oosterschelde. Reefs consist of gabions filled with oyster shells (Crassostrea gigas), offering a stable substrate that allows for the settlement of oysters, while minimizing shell loss. Monitoring results indicate that artificial reefs can develop into self-maintaining, living oyster reefs which stabilize tidal flats. Site-specific effects in reef development (e.g. recruitment of oyster larvae) and in sediment dynamics were observed. Knowledge about local hydromorphological conditions and a thorough understanding of the ecosystem engineering properties and habitat requirements of C. gigas are needed to implement this concept in management practices. We present the concept, monitoring and modeling results and derive design rules from these.
|Title of host publication||104th Annual Meeting, Shellfisheries Association, Seattle, Washington, March 24–29, 2012|
|Place of Publication||Washington|
|Publisher||National Shellfisheries Association|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|