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Impacts of invasive species are context dependent and linked to the ecosystem they occur within. To broaden the understanding of the impact of a globally widespread invasive oyster, Crassostrea (Magallana) gigas, intertidal surveys were carried out at 15 different sites in Europe. The impact of C. gigas on macro- (taxa surrounding oyster > 1 cm) and epifaunal (taxa on oyster < 1 cm) benthic communities and α and β-diversity was assessed and compared to those ssociated with native ecosystem engineers, including the flat oyster Ostrea edulis . Whilst the effect of C. gigas on benthic community structures was dependent on habitat type, epifaunal communities associated with low densities of O. edulis and C. gigas did not differ and changes in benthic assemblage structure owing to the abundance of C. gigas were therefore attributed to the presence of oyster shells. Macrofaunal α-diversity increased with C. gigas cover in muddy habitats, while epifaunal α-diversity decreased at greater oyster densities. Macrofaunal β-diversity was greatest at low densities of C. gigas; however, it did not differ between samples without and increased densities of oysters. In contrast, epifaunal β-diversity decreased with increasing oyster cover. Different environmental contexts enabled more independent predictions of the effect of C. gigas on native communities. These were found to be low and more importantly not differing from O. edulis. This indicates that, at low densities, C. gigasmay be functionally equivalent to the declining native oyster in terms of biodiversity facilitation and aid in re-establishing benthic communities on shores where O. edulis has become extinct.


  • invasive species; intertidal assemblage; Pacific oyster; Crassostrea gigas, Ostrea edulis;
Original languageEnglish
Article number88
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number5
Early online date20 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

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