In coastal marine systems 95% of all biodiversity is found within biogenic habitats, such as seagrasses, seaweeds and oysters.

Yet, these species are in decline threatening the integrity and functioning of coastal marine ecosystems. In particular greater than 90% of all beds of the native oyster Saccostrea glomerata have been decimated.

Restoration of habitat-formers is often unsuccessful possibly due to low genetic diversity in translocated individuals. In collaboration with NSW DPI, this study investigates whether the resistance and resilience of oysters is linked to phenotypic differences among genotypes.

The research will reveal whether more phenotypically diverse oyster populations are more resistant to stress, and harbour more diverse communities. If so, then phenotypic diversity may be an important missing link in the development of successful conservation strategies for oysters and habitat-forming species more broadly.

Project led by A/Prof Paul Gribben (UNSW), in collaboration with A/Prof Melanie Bishop (Macquarie University) and A/Prof Randall Hughes (Northeastern University Boston).

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