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Quantifying the status and success on restored native oyster Ostrea edulis beds in the Solent.

Project Description

Globally, the restoration of ostreid bivalves is gaining momentum. In European waters the native oyster Ostrea edulis is the focus of extensive restoration efforts and in the Solent, the Blue Marine Foundation (BMF) have been leading efforts to restore native oysters since 2017. The Solent historically represented the UK’s largest oyster fishery, but has been in decline since the 1970s and generally has been closed to fishing since 2013. The Solent system represents a good model to understand how best to restore a habitat that no longer exists; insights that can be scaled to the wider Europe and beyond.
Thus far our work has compared the performance of small scale elevated culture of broodstock oysters in suspended cage culture in marinas with elevated reef culture on the sea bed1 and has explored the environmental controls of sex determination and gametogenesis in native oysters2-3. Research is also quantifying the services offered by oysters for nutrient regulation and microplastic removal from the environment.
This studentship will develop a large-scale restoration strategy for relayed oysters in the River Hamble (Solent) and in Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight, and will then quantify the success of that strategy through monitoring.

Funding Notes

The University of Portsmouth has committed to fund the necessary ‘boat time’ for this work. We have an estimated cost of £7-10k per year for boat charter, based on the contracting of professional fishermen.

The Blue Marine Foundation have committed to support at least 50% of the cost of this studentship from their funds.


1) Sawusdee A., Jensen A.C., Collins K.J., Hauton C. (2015) Improvements in the physiological performance of European flat oysters Ostrea edulis (Linnaeus, 1758) cultured on elevated reef structures: implications for oyster restoration. Aquaculture 444: 41-48.

2) Zapata-Restrepo L.M., Hudson M., Williams I.D., Hauton C., Jensen A. (2019) Effects of the interaction between temperature and steroid hormones on gametogenesis and sex ratio in the European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology. 236: 110523

3) Kamphausen, L., Jensen, A., Hawkins, L., (2011). Unusually high proportion of males in a collapsing population of commercially fished oysters (Ostrea edulis) in the Solent, United Kingdom. Journal of Shellfish Research 30: 217–222.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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