The importance of restoring filter-feeders, such as the Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, to mitigate the effects of eutrophication (e.g. in Chesapeake Bay) is currently under debate. The argument that bivalve molluscs alone cannot control phytoplankton blooms and reduce hypoxia oversimplifies a more complex issue, namely that ecosystem engineering species make manifold contributions to ecosystem services. Although further discussion and research leading to a more complete understanding is required, oysters and other molluscs (e.g. mussels) in estuarine ecosystems provide services far beyond the mere top-down control of phytoplankton blooms, such as (1) seston filtration, (2) benthic–pelagic coupling, (3) creation of refugia from predation, (4) creation of feeding habitat for juveniles and adults of mobile species, and for sessile stages of species that attach to molluscan shells, and (5) provision of nesting habitat.
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Inter-Research Science Publisher
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Coen, L.D., R.D. Brumbaugh, D. Bushek, R.G. Grizzle, M.W. Luckenbach, M.H. Posey, S.P. Powers and S.G. Tolley. 2007. As we see it: Ecosystem services related to oyster restoration. Marine Ecology Progress Series 341:303-307.