Historical dataset details the distribution, extent and form of lost Ostrea edulis reef ecosystems.

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Ruth H. Thurstan , Hannah McCormick, Joanne Preston, Elizabeth C Ashton, Floris P Bennema, Ana Bratoš Cetinić, Janet H Brown, Tom C Cameron, Fiz da Costa, David Donnan, Christine Ewers, Tomaso Fortibuoni, Eve Galimany, Otello Giovanardi, Romain Grancher, Daniele Grech, Maria Hayden-Hughes, Luke Helmer, K Thomas Jensen, José A Juanes, Janie Latchford, Alec BM Moore, Dimitrios K Moutopoulos, Pernille Nielsen, Henning von Nordheim, Bárbara Ondiviela, Corina Peter, Bernadette Pogoda, Bo Poulsen, Stéphane Pouvreau, Cordula Scherer, Aad Smaal, David Smyth, Åsa Strand, John A Theodorou, Philine SE zu Ermgassen


Ocean ecosystems have been subjected to anthropogenic influences for centuries, but the scale of past ecosystem changes is often unknown. For centuries, the European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis), an ecosystem engineer providing biogenic reef habitats, was a culturally and economically significant source of food and trade. These reef habitats are now functionally extinct, and almost no memory of where this ecosystem once existed, at what scales, or its past form and functioning, remains. The described datasets present qualitative and quantitative extracts from written records published between 1524 and 2022, which show: (1) locations of past oyster fisheries and/or oyster reef habitat across its biogeographical range, with associated levels of confidence; (2) extent of past oyster reef habitats, and; (3) species associated with these habitats. These datasets will be of use to inform accelerating restoration activities, to establish reference models for anchoring adaptive management of restoration action, and in contributing to global efforts to recover records on the hidden history of anthropogenic-driven ocean ecosystem degradation.




Aquaculture and Fisheries Life Sciences, Biodiversity, Marine Biology, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


Ostrea edulis, historical ecology, environmental history, biogenic habitat


Published: 2023-12-08 02:12


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data is available in figshare, which will be made publicly available upon publication