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dc.contributor.advisorJames, Mark Andrew
dc.contributor.advisorSanderson, W. G. (William Guy)
dc.contributor.authorRodriguez Perez, Ana
dc.coverage.spatial156 p.en_US
dc.description.abstractThe European oyster Ostrea edulis is a keystone species that is internationally recognised as ‘threatened and declining’ in the North-East Atlantic and several nations have adopted strategies for its conservation and restoration. The overall goal of the present work was to inform conservation and restoration efforts. The purpose of this thesis, therefore, was to study the larval behaviour and ecology of O. edulis in as much as is relevant to the dispersal of this species. Specifically, the larvae’s vertical distribution, swimming speeds, settlement preferences and pelagic duration were studied in laboratory experiments. Most larvae concentrated at the bottom of the aquarium, independently of the developmental stage, light, food or temperature. In addition, larvae behaved actively in ~50% of all bottom observations, indicating a behavioural function other than resting. Advection close to the seabed is known to be slower than in any other part of the water column. The observed demersal behaviour would therefore most likely reduce dispersal from natal populations and enhance self-recruitment. At the surface, larvae frequently formed aggregations. In the water column, larvae swam with high vertical directionality and their distribution was homogenous. Swimming speeds ranged from 0.001 mm/s to 9.07 mm/s. O. edulis larvae settled preferentially among conspecifics (100% in < 24h), and if conspecifics were absent, larvae also settled in response to habitat-associated biofilms (81% of settlement after a 45h delay). Sterile shells and terrestrial stones did not induce more settlement than control treatments (0-14% settlement). Pelagic duration was strongly dependent on temperature, food and a suitable settlement cue. In the absence of an appropriate settlement cue, 80% of larvae delayed metamorphosis for up to 14 days, when the experiment was terminated. In contrast, 95-100% of larvae delaying their metamorphosis settled when presented with a conspecific. Such a delay in metamorphosis enhances the risk of predation and, ultimately, of losing most larvae to mortality if target habitats are absent. The results of this thesis provide strong evidence that O. edulis larvae are targeting their own beds, and that the behaviour of larvae plays a crucial role in their dispersal and successful recruitment. Restoring European oyster beds at a scale that is large and dense enough to promote the retention of larvae may be crucial to the success of restoration efforts.en_US
dc.description.sponsorship"The project was funded by the Nesbit Cleland Trust (St Abbs Marine Station), Royal Haskoning DHV and Scottish Natural Heritage with additional support from the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP: a partnership between Heriot-Watt University, the Marine Conservation Society and the Glenmorangie Whisky Company: A15R10520) and the MASTS pooling initiative (the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011). Additional funding for travel and research was provided by MASTS, St Andrews Rector’s Fund and Erasmus+." -- fUNDINGen
dc.publisherUniversity of St Andrews
dc.relationPelagic larval duration of the European oyster Ostrea edulis (thesis data) Rodriguez Perez, A., University of St Andrews, 18 September 2019. DOI:
dc.relationSettlement preferences of the European oyster Ostrea edulis (thesis data) Rodriguez Perez, A., University of St Andrews, 18 September 2019. DOI:
dc.relationVertical distribution, swimmings speeds and larval behaviour of the European oyster Ostrea edulis (thesis data) Rodriguex Perez, A., University of St Andrews, 18 September 2019. DOI:
dc.rightsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International*
dc.subjectOstrea edulisen_US
dc.subjectLarval behaviouren_US
dc.subjectLarval dispersalen_US
dc.subject.lcshEuropean oyster--Larvae--Dispersalen
dc.subject.lcshEuropean oyster--Larvae--Behavioren
dc.subject.lcshEuropean oyster--Conservationen
dc.titleInforming the conservation and restoration of a keystone species : the larval behaviour of the European oyster Ostrea edulisen_US
dc.contributor.sponsorNesbit Cleland Trust (St Abbs Marine Station)en_US
dc.contributor.sponsorRoyal HaskoningDHVen_US
dc.contributor.sponsorScottish Natural Heritage (SNH)en_US
dc.contributor.sponsorHeriot-Watt Universityen_US
dc.contributor.sponsorMarine Conservation Society (MCS)en_US
dc.contributor.sponsorGlenmorangie Whisky Companyen_US
dc.contributor.sponsorMarine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS)en_US
dc.contributor.sponsorScottish Funding Councilen_US
dc.type.qualificationnamePhD Doctor of Philosophyen_US
dc.publisher.institutionThe University of St Andrewsen_US
dc.publisher.departmentHeriot-Watt Universityen_US

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    Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
    Except where otherwise noted within the work, this item's licence for re-use is described as Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International