Globally, shellfish reefs have declined as a result of historical overharvest, disease, sedimentation and poor water quality. Within Australia, it’s estimated that only 5% of locations where oyster reefs were historically present still exist today. Preliminary investigation of historical records indicate a considerable loss of shellfish reefs in NSW estuaries. To prioritise locations for restoration, valuable research is needed to provide estuary-specific evidence of historical shellfish reefs.

The project: “How Much Shellfish Reefs Have We Lost & Why Should We Care?” will be conducted in collaboration with and supported by the MEMA Oyster Reef Restoration Project at NSW DPI Fisheries. Therefore, you’ll have the opportunity to gain experience that’s relevant to careers within and outside academia.


This project will determine historical and current densities of shellfish in NSW estuaries. This will be coupled with experimental work to estimate the loss of ecosystem services provided by these important reefs to NSW’s marine estate.

Student Benefits

Through this project, you’ll learn how to:

  • Apply critical thinking and scientific writing
  • Research historical records
  • Conduct field and laboratory techniques in sampling ecological functions

Supervisors: Dr Mariana Mayer-Pinto and Dr Vicky Cole (NSW DPI Fisheries).