Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1949
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 2006
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1949

General Invasion History:

Ostrea edulis, the European Oyster, is native to the northeast Atlantic from Norway to Morocco, and the Mediterranean and Black Seas (Carriker and Gaffney 1992). Over this range, it shows some genetic variation, with some clustering of Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks, and strong divergence of Black Sea populations (Launey et al. 2002). This oyster has been cultivated in European waters since before Roman times. It has been introduced and is established on the East Coast of North America, and is widely cultured on the West Coast (Welch 1966; Carlton 1979; Conte 1996), in Australia (Morton et al. 2003), and Japan (Iwasaki 2005). Local breeding populations are established in South Africa (Griffiths et al. 2009) and Australia (Morton et al. 2003). Individuals have been found in the wild in British Columbia (Gillespie, 2007), but it is not clear if populations are established.

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

The successful introduction of O. edulis to Maine led to trials in Puget Sound, Washington in 1951, and subsequent plantings as far southward as Morro Bay, California (CA) as late as 1965. These plantings were unsuccessful at establishing populations, but hatchery-based culture continues, though at much smaller scales than that of the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) (Carlton 1979; Conte 1996). It is also cultured on a small scale in British Columbia (BC). Recruited individuals were found in 2006 in Barkley Sound, BC (Gillespie, 2007), but these may have been from larvae drifting from mariculture farms.

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Ostrea edulis was introduced to East Coast waters by the US Bureau of Fisheries to provide an oyster that could support fisheries in waters too cold to support the native Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virignica) (Loosanoff 1955). In 1949, European Oysters were planted in Milford Harbor, Connecticut (CT), in Long Island Sound (where the native oyster was abundant). Some of these oysters were then transplanted that year to three cold-water locations in Maine, including Harpswell, on Casco Bay, Boothbay Harbor, and Frenchman Bay (Loosanoff 1955; Welch 1966). Successful development of larvae was seen in Connecticut and Maine. Subsequent efforts were focused on Maine waters, with additional transplants of oysters from the Netherlands in the 1950s (Welch 1966). By 1962, successful settlement of O. edulis was seen from Casco Bay to the Damariscotta River (Welsh 1966). In the 1970s, several more transplants were made by aquaculturists and universities in Casco Bay. By 1982, populations were substantial, and considered sufficient to support limited commercial fisheries (Heinig and Tarbox 1985; Hidu and Lavoie 1991). However, populations in Maine have been subject to die-offs due to the protozoan parasite Bonamia ostreae (Elston et al. 1986; Barber and Davis 1994). Natural dispersal, fouling, ballast water, and unofficial transplants may have spread this oyster southward. By the mid-1980s, this oyster was found in Ninigret Pond, on the south coast of Rhode Island (Carlton 1992). Rare individuals have been found since 2005 in Noank, CT, in Fishers Island Sound, but no established populations are yet known west of Rhode Island (James T. Carlton, personal communication 2005). It probably spread southward in the Gulf of Maine earlier – by 2000-2007 O. edulis was present in Great Bay and the Isles of Shoals (NH-ME) (Harris and Dijkstra, 2007; MIT Sea Grant 2007), Gloucester Harbor, Salem Harbor, and Boston Harbor (Bell et al. 2005; MIT Sea Grant 2007).

Early attempts were made to introduce O. edulis from Wales to Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1957-1959, but all of these oysters died. Later attempts at hatchery rearing in Atlantic Canada used oysters from the Netherlands. A number of small populations were established in sheltered bays in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – the largest is in Lake Lockhart, New Brunswick, on the Bay of Fundy (Hidu and Lavoie 1991; Vercaemer et al. 2003; Bataller et al. 2006). Smaller settlements occur near aquaculture operations on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia – one near Sambro, appears to be self-sustaining. Winter survival and summer recruitment in Atlantic Canada is probably limited by low temperatures (Vercaemer et al. 2003; Bataller et al. 2006).

Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:

Invasion History in Hawaii:

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

Ostrea edulis is highly regarded as food, but has not been cultured as widely as the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas), possibly because of its narrower tolerances, greater susceptibility to diseases, and lower productivity (Ruesink et al. 2005). It is cultured in Japan, South Africa, Namibia, and Mauritius (Iwasaki 2006; Ruesink et al. 2005). It was introduced to South Africa for aquaculture in 1946. An early population in the Knysna estuary died out, but a small breeding population has persisted in some oyster ponds in Alexander Bay (Griffiths et al. 2009; Haupt et al. 2010). Surprisingly, Ostrea edulis was found on the southwest coast of Australia, near Albany, Western Australia, and identified by molecular means, although it was not known to be cultured in the region. This could have been an introduction by ship fouling or ballast water (Morton et al. 2003).


Description

Ostrea edulis has a roughly circular, or broadly oval, shell, occasionally with a distinct hooked beak. The upper (right) valve bears conspicuous concentric lamellae (layers) on the outer surface. The left shell is concave and fixed to the substratum. Inside the hinge are crenulations (known as chomata) that vary from strong and easily seen with the naked eye, to subtle inconspicuous bumps, to being absent, the latter situation resulting from overgrowth of the chomata by additional shell layers in older specimens. The shell is flat, grayish-white, and has a large white muscle scar on both valves. It grows to a maximum size of 200 mm, but is rarely larger than 110 mm (Abbott 1974; Coan et al. 2000; Coan and Valentich-Scott, in Carlton 2007; Food and Agriculture Organization 2011). Larvae settle at a size of 280-300 µm (Food and Agriculture Organization 2011).


Taxonomy

Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Mollusca
Class:   Bivalvia
Subclass:   Pteriomorphia
Order:   Ostreoida
Family:   Ostreidae
Genus:   Ostrea
Species:   edulis

Synonyms

Ostrea adriatica (Lamarck, 1818)
Ostrea taurica (Krynicki, 1837)
Ostrea boblayei (Deshayes, 1833)
Ostrea corbuloides (Danilo & Sandri, 1855)
Ostrea cristata (Poli, 1795)
Ostrea cumana (Gregorio, 1883)
Ostrea cyrnusi (Payraudeau, 1826)
Ostrea depressa (Philippi, 1836)
Ostrea exalbida (Gmelin, 1791)
Ostrea hippopus (Lamarck, 1819)
Ostrea lamellosa (Brocchi, 1814)
Ostrea leonica (Fréminville in Taslé, 1870)
Ostrea parasitica (Turton, 1819)
Ostrea rostrata (Gmelin, 1791)
Ostrea saxatilis (Turton, 1807)
Ostrea scaeva (Monterosato, 1915)
Ostrea striatum (da Costa, 1778)
Ostrea sublamellosa ( Milachewitch, 1916)
Ostrea vulgare (da Costa, 1778)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Crassostrea gigas
Pacific Oyster, native to northwest Pacific

Crassostrea virginica
Eastern Oyster, native to northwest Atlantic

Ostrea conchaphila
Native to tropical east Pacific, Baja California southward, distinct from O. lurida (Polson et al. 2009)

Ostrea lurida
Olympic Oyster, native to northeast Pacific (Polson et al. 2009)

Ecology

General:

Ostrea edulis, like other oysters, is a protandric hermaphrodite, maturing first as a male and then becoming female in subsequent seasons. Males release sperm into the water column, while females brood eggs in their gills, where fertilization occurs. Larvae are brooded and released as shelled veligers. Each veliger feeds on phytoplankton, and grows, eventually developing a foot and becoming a pediveliger, competent for settlement. In laboratory culture, larval settlement occurred at about 8-26 days at 17.5 to 27.5?C (Davis and Calabrese 1969). Adult C. gigas feed on phytoplankton of 6-32 um with ~100% retention efficiency, but are less efficient with smaller organisms (Nielsen et al. 2016). Adult oysters are reported to grow to 200 mm, although 110 mm in length is a more typical maximum (Carriker and Gaffney 1996; Abbott 1974; Coan and Valentich-Scott, in Carlton 2007; Food and Agriculture Organization 2011).

Ostrea edulis is characteristic of protected coastal waters in Europe. This oyster normally grows at salinities of 22-35 PSU (Black Sea populations live at ~ 18 PSU), and can tolerate brief exposures to salinities as low as 15 PSU (Davis and Ansell 1962). It tolerates a very wide temperature range, from below 5 to 30?C, although temperatures over 25?C are stressful (Newell et al. 1977).

Food:

Phytoplankton, detritus

Consumers:

Crabs, whelks, starfish, humans, parasites

Trophic Status:

Suspension Feeder

SusFed

Habitats

General HabitatVessel HullNone
General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatOyster ReefNone
General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatRockyNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeLow IntertidalNone
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Life History


Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)5Lowest tested (Newell et al. 1977)
Maximum Temperature (ºC)30Highest tested (Newell et al. 1977)
Minimum Salinity (‰)15Experimental (Davis and Ansell 1962)
Maximum Salinity (‰)38Based on occurrences in Mediterranean
Minimum Reproductive Temperature13Field observations, Europe, varies geographically (Hidu and Lavoie 1991).
Maximum Reproductive Temperature25Field observations, Europe, varies geographically (Hidu and Lavoie 1991).
Minimum Reproductive Salinity22.5Field and experimental observations, Europe, varies geographically (Hidu and Lavoie 1991).
Maximum Reproductive Salinity40Field and experimental observations, Europe, varies geographically (Hidu and Lavoie 1991).
Minimum Duration8Larval duration, Europe, 13-23 C, (Korriga 1941, cited by Hidu and Lavoie 1991)
Maximum Duration26Larval duration, Davis and Calabrese 1969
Maximum Length (mm)200(Abbott 1974; Coan and Valentich-Scott, in Carlton 2007; Food and Agriculture Organization 2011)
Broad Temperature RangeNoneCold temperate-Warm temperate
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Ostrea edulis, the European Flat Oyster, has been cultured in some locations, and has become introduced and established in a few locations around the world (Ruesink et al. 2005), but has become abundant enough to support a wild fishery only in Maine (Heinig and Tarbox 1985; Hidu and Lavoie 1991). Impacts on native species have not been reported.

Economic Impacts

Fisheries- Ostrea edulis, the European Flat Oyster (often called Belon, after a French town known for the quality of its oysters), is highly regarded for flavor, but is slower-growing and more prone to disease than the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) (Conte 1996; Ruesink et al. 2005; Morse 2011). It tends to be cultured on much smaller scales than C. gigas or Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis or M. galloprovincialis). In Maine, they are regarded as difficult to raise, because of periodic die-offs due to the parasite Bonamia ostreae, the erratic release of their brooded larvae, and problems from fouling organisms. Ongoing research is being done to improve culture methods (Morse 2011).

Ecological Impacts

Parasite/Predator Vector- Ostrea edulis is subject to many diseases, of which Bonamia ostreae is probably the most serious. The geographic origin and original host(s) of Bonamia is/are unknown. Although it was first described from Brittany, France (Pichot et al. 1979), infections of O. edulis in Europe, Washington, Maine, and California appear to have originated in a hatchery (closed sometime before 1966) in Elkhorn Slough, California (Elston et al. 1986; Friedman et al. 1989). The Olympic Oyster (O. lurida), native to the West Coast, was once suspected as the original host. However, O. lurida could not be infected with B. ostreae in experiments (Arzul et al. 2005, Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2007 http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sci/shelldis/pages/bonostoy_e.htm). This parasite is primarily a threat to populations of O. edulis, including populations in Europe, which were being restored using stock from West Coast hatcheries (Pichot et al. 1979; Englesma et al. 2007); introduced populations in Maine (Elston et al. 1986); and cultured populations in California, Maine, and British Columbia (Friedmam et al. 1989; Marty et al. 2006; Morse 2011). Several other species of oysters, including Crassostrea ariakensis are prone to infestations of Bonamia, but these appear to be due to species other than B. ostreae (Burreson et al. 2004). Transmission of Bonamia ostreae and other parasites is an important consideration in aquaculture or restoration activities involving O. edulis.


Regional Impacts

N070Damariscotta RiverEconomic ImpactFisheries
None
NA-ET2Bay of Fundy to Cape CodEconomic ImpactFisheries
European Oyster (Ostrea edulis) populations in Casco Bay were considered sufficient to support limited fisheries (Heinig and Tarbox 1985; Hidu and Lavoie 1991). Aquaculture of this oyster has had mixed results, because of disease (Bonamia ostreae) and other culture problems. Aquaculture research in Maine is continuing, and there is a demand for this oyster because of its flavor (Morse 2011).
NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEconomic ImpactFisheries
Ostrea edulis is cultured on a small scale in California, using oysters reared in hatcheries (Conte 1996).
NEP-IVPuget Sound to Northern CaliforniaEconomic ImpactFisheries
Ostrea edulis is cultured on a small scale in Willapa Bay, WA (Ruesink 2007 http://depts.washington.edu/jlrlab/shellfishindustry.php) using oysters reared in hatcheries.
NEP-IIIAlaskan panhandle to N. of Puget SoundEconomic ImpactFisheries
Ostrea edulis is cultured in Puget Sound. Stocks raised in Puget Sound hatcheries have been exported to Europe, Japan, and elsewhere (Ruesink et al. 2005).
NA-ET2Bay of Fundy to Cape CodEcological ImpactParasite/Predator Vector
None
NA-ET1Gulf of St. Lawrence to Bay of FundyEconomic ImpactFisheries
Small-scale aquaculture operations are conducted in bays on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia (Hidu and Lavoie 1991; Vercaemer et al. 2003).
WA-IVNoneEconomic ImpactFisheries
Ostrea edulis is cultured in South African waters, but is dependent on hatchery-reared spat (Ruesink et al. 2005; Haupt et al. 2010).
NWP-3bNoneEconomic ImpactFisheries
Ostrea edulis is cultured in Japanese waters, but is dependent on hatcheries (Iwasaki 2006; Ruesink et al. 2005).
EA-VNoneEconomic ImpactFisheries
Ostrea edulis is cultured in Mauritius waters, but is dependent on hatchery-reared spat (Ruesink et al. 2005).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
NEA-II None 0 Native Estab
NEA-III None 0 Native Estab
AR-V None 0 Native Estab
NEA-IV None 0 Native Estab
NEA-V None 0 Native Estab
MED-II None 0 Native Estab
MED-IV None 0 Native Estab
MED-III None 0 Native Estab
MED-VII None 0 Native Estab
MED-V None 0 Native Estab
MED-VI None 0 Native Estab
MED-VIII None 0 Native Estab
MED-IX None 0 Native Estab
B-I None 0 Native Estab
B-II None 0 Native Estab
B-III None 0 Native Estab
B-IV None 0 Native Estab
NA-ET2 Bay of Fundy to Cape Cod 1949 Def Estab
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 1949 Def Estab
WA-I None 0 Native Estab
NA-ET1 Gulf of St. Lawrence to Bay of Fundy 1969 Def Estab
NZ-IV None 1869 Def Failed
NEP-III Alaskan panhandle to N. of Puget Sound 2006 Def Unk
NEP-V Northern California to Mid Channel Islands 1956 Def Failed
NEP-IV Puget Sound to Northern California 1964 Def Failed
AUS-V None 2000 Def Estab
M040 Long Island Sound 1949 Def Unk
NA-S3 None 1957 Def Failed
MED-I None 0 Native Estab
P270 Willapa Bay 1970 Def Failed
P290 Puget Sound 1961 Def Failed
P130 Humboldt Bay 1964 Def Failed
P110 Tomales Bay 1956 Def Failed
M026 _CDA_M026 (Pawcatuck-Wood) 1985 Def Estab
N070 Damariscotta River 1962 Def Estab
N100 Casco Bay 1949 Def Estab
N135 _CDA_N135 (Piscataqua-Salmon Falls) 2003 Def Estab
N170 Massachusetts Bay 2000 Def Estab
P070 Morro Bay 1963 Def Failed
P080 Monterey Bay 1964 Def Failed
P090 San Francisco Bay 1962 Def Failed
P100 Drakes Estero 1962 Def Failed
N036 _CDA_N036 (Maine Coastal) 1949 Def Failed
WA-IV None 1946 Def Estab
N130 Great Bay 2007 Def Estab
NWP-3b None 1952 Def Unk
SP-VII None 1977 Def Failed
SP-VIII None 1975 Def Failed
EA-V None 1972 Def Unk
N185 _CDA_N185 (Cape Cod) 2007 Def Estab
N120 Wells Bay 2013 Def Estab
N140 Hampton Harbor 2013 Def Estab
M010 Buzzards Bay 2013 Def Estab
M020 Narragansett Bay 2013 Def Estab
NEA-VI None 2013 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude

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