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Oyster (Ostrea edulis) extirpation and ecosystem transformation in the Firth of Forth, Scotland

Thurstan, Ruth H, Hawkins, Julie P, Raby, Lee and Roberts, Callum M 2013, Oyster (Ostrea edulis) extirpation and ecosystem transformation in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, Journal for nature conservation, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 253-261, doi: 10.1016/j.jnc.2013.01.004.

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Title Oyster (Ostrea edulis) extirpation and ecosystem transformation in the Firth of Forth, Scotland
Author(s) Thurstan, Ruth HORCID iD for Thurstan, Ruth H orcid.org/0000-0002-8045-1631
Hawkins, Julie P
Raby, Lee
Roberts, Callum M
Journal name Journal for nature conservation
Volume number 21
Issue number 5
Start page 253
End page 261
Total pages 9
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2013-10
ISSN 1617-1381
Keyword(s) Benthic communities
Bottom trawling
Historical ecologya
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Biodiversity Conservation
Ecology
Biodiversity & Conservation
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Historical ecology
IRISH SEA SEDIMENTS
VERTICAL-DISTRIBUTION
CHESAPEAKE BAY
ESTUARY
FISHERIES
HABITATS
WATER
CONSERVATION
RESTORATION
IMPACTS
Summary Marine inshore communities, including biogenic habitats have undergone dramatic changes as a result of exploitation, pollution, land-use changes and introduced species. The Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland was once home to the most important oyster (Ostrea edulis Linnaeus, 1758) beds in Scotland. 19th and early 20th century fisheries scientists documented the degradation and loss of these beds, yet transformation of the wider benthic community has been little studied. We undertook archival searches, ecological surveys and shell community analysis using radioisotope dated sediment cores to investigate the history of decline of Forth oyster beds over the last 200 years and the changes to its wider biological communities. Quadrat analysis of the present day benthos reveal that soft-sediment communities dominate the Firth of Forth, with little remaining evidence of past oyster beds in places where abundant shell remains were picked up by a survey undertaken in 1895. Queen scallops (Aequipecten opercularis Linnaeus, 1758) and horse mussels (Modiolus modiolus Linnaeus, 1758) were once common within the Forth but have also markedly decreased compared to the earlier survey. Ouranalyses of shell remains suggest that overall mollusc biomass and species richness declined throughout the 19th century and early 20th century, suggesting broader-scale community change as human impacts increased and as habitats degraded. Inshore communities in the Firth of Forth today are less productive and less diverse compared to past states, with evidence suggesting that most of the damage was done by early bottom trawling and dredging activities. Given the pervasive nature of intensive trawling over the past 150 years, the kind of degradation we document for the Firth of Forth is likely to be commonplace within UK inshore communities.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.jnc.2013.01.004
Field of Research 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2013, Elsevier GmbH
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30088125

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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