Friday, February 11, 2011

Oysters disappearing worldwide: study

A survey of oyster habitats around the world has found that the succulent mollusks are disappearing fast and 85 percent of their reefs have been lost due to disease and over-harvesting.

Most of the remaining wild oysters in the world, or about 75 percent, can be found in five locations in North America, said the study published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

An international team of researchers led by Michael Beck of the Nature Conservancy and the University of California, Santa Cruz, examined the condition of native oyster reefs in 40 ecoregions, including 144 bays.

"Oyster reefs are at less than 10 percent of their prior abundance in most bays (70 percent) and ecoregions (63 percent)," said the study.

"They are functionally extinct -- in that they lack any significant ecosystem role and remain at less than one percent of prior abundances in many bays (37 percent) and ecoregions (28 percent) -- particularly in North America, Australia and Europe."

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