Thursday, 18 October 2018

Oysters at risk from changing climate


October 9, 2018, Institute of Physics
Climate change's effect on coastal ecosystems is very likely to increase mortality risks of adult oyster populations in the next 20 years.
That is the finding of a new study led by the University of Nantes, the LEMAR (the Marine Environmental Science Laboratory) in Plouzané and the Cerfacs (European center for research and advanced training in scientific computing) in Toulouse (France).
Published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the research highlights a novel and comprehensive relationship between climate variability and historical mortality of adult oysters on the French Atlantic coast from 1993 to 2015.
The team's results show oyster mortality usually increases after warm and wet winters over Northern Europe, affected by recurrent storms embedded in large weather circulation patterns covering the whole North Atlantic basin – known as the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
The study's lead author is Dr. Yoann Thomas, from the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) at LEMAR. He said: "Benthic species like oysters are keystone species in coastal ecosystems. For example, they build reef habitats, which sustain a high biodiversity, and provide tremendous food source worldwide though fishing or aquaculture activities.
"But they are very sensitive to changes in climate and water quality, because they cannot move if a location becomes inhospitable. In this sense, oyster populations are sentinels of long-term climate fluctuations and climate trends, and more broadly of the 'health' of coastal ecosystems.

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