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Pacific oysters invade mussel beds in the European Wadden Sea

Pazifische Austern bevölkern Miesmuschelbänke im europäischen Wattenmeer

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Abstract

Near the island of Sylt in the North Sea, importedCrassostrea gigas are grown on oyster trestles. These oysters reproduced successfully, and strong spatfalls occurred in 1991 and 1994 on natural mussel beds. The wild oyster population comprised about one million in summer 1995. Resampling in 1996 revealed a survival of 66% in spite of a foregoing severe winter. Oysters growing on mussel beds attained a length of 20 to 50 mm in their 1st year and 50 to 80 mm in their 2nd. Some of the oysters were larger and presumably much older. Abundance was highest (up to 8 oysters m−2) on exposed mussel beds at low tide level, not covered by algae. It is expected thatC. gigas will become a permanent member of the biotic community in the Wadden Sea. It does not invade the vacated niche of the regionally extincted EuropeanOstrea edulis but lives as an epibiont on densily packed mussels.C. gigas here consitutes an r-selected species invading a crowded community in an undisturbed habitat. Through oyster imports, the culture site served as a gateway for 5 other, inadvertently introduced species into this part of the Wadden Sea.

Kurzfassung

Nahe der Nordseeinsel Sylt wurden imponierteCrassostrea gigas in Kultur genommen. Diese Austern haben sich erfolgreich mit je einem starken Brutfall in den Jahren 1991 und 1994 vermehrt. Eine Ansiedlung erfolgte vornehmlich auf natürlichen Miesmuschelbänken, wo die Austernpopulation im Sommer 1995 etwa eine Million Individuen umfaßte. Trotz des darauffolgenden strengen Winters überlebten davon 66%. Im ersten Lebensjahr erlangten die Jungaustern 20 bis 50 mm Länge und im zweiten 50 bis 80 mm. Einige der Austern waren größer und vermutlich wesentlich älter. Die Abundanz (bis zu 8 Austern m−2) war auf exponierten, nicht mit Algen überwachsenen Miesmuschelbänken nahe der Niedrigwasserlinie am höchsten. Es ist zu erwarten, daßC. gigas zum festen Bestandteil der Lebensgemeinschaft im Wattenmeer wird. Die Pazifische Auster besetzt aber nicht die frei gewordene Nische der hier ausgerotteten, europäischenOstrea edulis, sondern lebt als Epibiont auf dicht gepackten Miesmuscheln.C. gigas stellt hier eine r-selektierte Art dar, die in eine eng besetzte Lebensgemeinschaft eines ungestörten Lebensraumes eindringt. Durch die Austernimporte wirkte die Sylter Austernkultur wie eine Schleuse für 5 weitere, unbeabsichtigt eingeschleppte Arten in diese Region des Wattenmeeres.

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Reise, K. Pacific oysters invade mussel beds in the European Wadden Sea. Senckenbergiana maritima 28, 167–175 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03043147

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