Invasion of the Wadden Sea by the Pacific Oyster (Magallana gigas): A Risk to Ecosystem Services?

  • Lars GutowEmail author
  • Christian Buschbaum


The Pacific oyster Magallana gigas (formerly Crassostrea gigas) was introduced in the Wadden Sea in the 1980s for aquaculture purposes. Soon after the introduction, oysters escaped from the commercial oyster farms and massively colonized the intertidal beds of the native blue mussel Mytilus edulis. A competitive suppression of the mussel population may have led to the loss of important ecosystem services provided by the mussels. Today, however, both species co-exist in dense mixed beds without substantial change in mussel density and functioning of the Wadden Sea ecosystem. The invasion of the Pacific oyster in the Wadden Sea provides an example of how relatively young ecosystems can integrate non-indigenous species without detrimental implications for ecosystem services.


Non-indigenous species Competition Co-existence Mytilus edulis North Sea Biodiversity Coastal protection Seawater quality Magallana (Crassostrea) gigas 


  1. 1.
    Clavero M, García-Berthou E. Invasive species are a leading cause of animal extinctions. Trends Ecol Evol. 2005;20:110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chapin FS III, Zavaleta ES, Eviner VT, Naylor RL, Vitousek PM, Reynolds HL, et al. Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature. 2000;405:234–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Estes JA, Palmisano JF. Sea otters: their role in structuring nearshore communities. Science. 1974;185:1058–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Diederich S, Nehls G, van Beuselom JEE, Reise K. Introduced Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in the northern Wadden Sea: invasion accelerated by warm summers? Helgol Mar Res. 2005;59:97–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Buschbaum C, Dittmann S, Hong J-S, Hwang I-S, Strasser M, Thiel M, et al. Mytilid mussels: global habitat engineers in coastal sediments. Helgol Mar Res. 2009;63:47–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Borsje BW, van Wesenbeeck BK, Dekker F, Paalvast P, Bouma TJ, van Katwijk MM, De Vries MB, et al. How ecological engineering can serve in coastal protection. Ecol Eng. 2011;37:113–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Prins TC, Smaal AC. The role of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis in the cycling of nutrients in the Oosterschelde estuary (The Netherlands). Hydrobiologia. 1994;282:413–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Riemann B, Nielsen TG, Horsted SJ, Bjørnsen PK, Pock-Steen J. Regulation of phytoplankton biomass in estuarine enclosures. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 1988;48:205–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Buschbaum C, Cornelius A, Goedknegt MA. Deeply hidden inside biogenic structures–Pacific oyster reefs reduce detrimental barnacle overgrowth on native blue mussels. J Sea Res. 2016;117:20–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kochmann J, Buschbaum C, Volkenborn N, Reise K. Shift from native mussels to alien oysters: differential effects of ecosystem engineers. J Exp Mar Bio Ecol. 2008;364:1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Newell RIE. Ecosystem influences of natural and cultivated populations of suspension-feeding bivalve molluscs: a review. J Shellfish Res. 2004;23:51–61.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Charles H, Dukes JS. Impacts of invasive species on ecosystem services. In: Nentwig W, editor. Biological invasions, Ecological studies, vol. 193. Heidelberg: Springer; 2007. p. 217–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Reise K, Buschbaum C, Büttger H, Rick J, Wegner KM. Invasion trajectory of Pacific oysters in the northern Wadden Sea. Mar Biol. 2017;164:68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchListGermany

Personalised recommendations