Ecological engineering with oysters enhances coastal resilience efforts

Mohammed Shah Nawaz Chowdhury*, Megan La Peyre, Loren D. Coen, Rebecca L. Morris, Mark W. Luckenbach, Tom Ysebaert, Brenda Walles, Aad C. Smaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal areas are especially vulnerable to habitat loss, sea-level rise, and other climate change effects. Oyster-dominated eco-engineered reefs have been promoted as integral components of engineered habitats enhancing coastal resilience through provision of numerous ecological, morphological, and socio-economic services. However, the assessed ‘success’ of these eco-engineered oyster reefs remains variable across projects and locations, with their general efficacy in promoting coastal resilience, along with related services, often mixed at best. Understanding factors influencing the success of these eco-engineered habitats as valuable coastal management tools could greatly inform related future efforts. Here, we review past studies incorporating reef-building oysters for coastal resilience and enhanced ecosystem services. Our aims are to better understand their utility and limitations, along with critical knowledge gaps to better advance future applicability. Success depends largely on site selection, informed by physical, chemical and biological factors, and adjacent habitats and bottom types. Better understanding of oyster metapopulation dynamics, tolerance and adaptation to changing conditions, and interactions with adjacent habitats will help to better identify suitable locations, and design more effective eco-engineered reefs. These eco-engineered reefs provide a useful tool to assist in developing coastal resilience in the face of climate change and sea level rise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106320
JournalEcological Engineering
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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