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Assessment of the population of Ostrea edulis in Sweden: A marginal population of significance?

Journal article
Authors Linnea Thorngren
Per Bergström
Thomas Dunér Holthuis
Mats Lindegarth
Published in Ecology and Evolution
Pages 12
ISSN 2045-7758
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of marine sciences
Department of marine sciences, Tjärnö Marine Laboratory
Pages 12
Language en
Keywords benthic habitat, conservation, Ostrea edulis, sampling methods, sustainable management, towed video, oyster reefs, habitat, restoration, stock, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology
Subject categories Biological Sciences


The European flat oyster Ostrea edulis is an economically and ecologically important species subjected to extensive protection and restoration efforts, due to sharp population declines in Europe. In Sweden, O. edulis occurs at the northern fringe of its range. Knowledge of the distribution and abundance of the species is limited, and the size of the population has never been estimated. Oyster fishery sustainability has never been assessed. Using a random sampling approach and towed video, we collected data on oyster occurrence at 435 sites to estimate abundance and distribution of O. edulis in the Swedish Skagerrak region. Furthermore, the size of the population was assessed and the current management and legislation strategy of the species was analyzed. Living O. edulis was found in 27% of all sampled sites above 6 m, and the size of the population was estimated to 36.6 +/- 16.3 million individuals (total population +/- SE). The distribution was patchy, and approximately 60% of the population was found in oyster bed densities (>= 5 oysters/m(2)), which corresponds to around 1% of the sampled sites. The nondestructive sampling method and representative design provided useful estimates of population size and error, which indicate that the marginal population of O. edulis in Sweden constitutes a significant part of the remaining European population. We argue that the relatively good status of the Swedish population can be explained by (a) private ownership of fishing rights, (b) a small-scale fishery that exploits <0.5% of the estimated population annually, conducted using nondestructive methods, and (c) parasite-free waters, potentially due to effective prevention of spread of infection. Open Research Badges This article has earned an Open Data Badge for making publicly available the digitally-shareable data necessary to reproduce the reported results. The data is available at .

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