NORA News
January 2024

Dear NORA community,

The team of the NORA secretariat wishes a happy New Year to all of you and lots of success, motivation and enthusiasm for your work in 2024.

As a follow-up from NORA 5, we are very glad to announce the foundation of a NORA Student Group. The first meeting in 2024 will take place on January 31st – see information below. The Genetics Working Group has already met this year and continues its engagement. Furthermore, we inform you that the NORA 5 presentations have been uploaded and are now online. And don´t miss some very interesting publications at the end of this newsletter.

Additionally, we can give you some exciting information about the Irish Oisre Restoration Project and the release of the new Solent Oyster film as well as about two job opportunities.

We are impressed how often members of the NORA community now get in touch with us to make use of the NORA network, the newsletter and website information. Thank you very much and we hope that we from our part can help to strengthen this alliance across Europe.

Looking forward to an exciting and successful collaboration with you,

The NORA Secretariat
secretariat@noraeurope.eu


NORA 5 Recap
Presentations Published

We highly appreciate that most of the NORA 5 speakers were able to submit their presentations for sharing it with the NORA community. A few presentations have already been sent to the participants; and some others are on the way to be published in peer reviewed journals. We will keep you updated as soon as they will be available.

All presentations which are allowed to being shared have been uploaded to the NORA website, so take a look in our section Programme & Talks.

And a reminder: the posters are available in our section Poster Session.

A NORA 5 video will soon be available on the website.


NORA Activities

NORA Student Group

After lots of positive interest and feedback at NORA 5 student session, we are excited to announce that a NORA Student Working group will be launching in January 2024. The first meeting will be online at 11:00am CET on 31st January 2024.

We’re hoping to create a friendly and accessible platform for all students and early career researchers working on and around native oysters to meet, exchange ideas and feel more actively represented within the NORA community.

We will be scheduling regular meetings throughout the new year, where students will have the opportunity to meet one another, share their own research, and learn from other students and guest speakers.

Whether you have just started the first year of your BSc or have recently passed your viva, we welcome all students and early career researchers who are interested in native oyster restoration to get involved in the student group.

If you are interested in joining the mailing list, learning more, or contributing to the Student Group of NORA, please contact Fiona Woods and Sophie Valk at students@noraeurope.eu.

Would you like to get to know Sophie and Fiona? Take a look at the NORA website.



Genetics Working Group meeting – summary

The sixth meeting of NORA’s Genetics Working Group (GWG) was held online on January 9th 2024, with more than 25 attendees. The group welcomed sone new members. Anyone interested in joining the group is first invited to get in touch with Pierre Boudry (pboudry@ifremer.fr). An updated list of current members will soon be compiled.

This 6th GWG meeting was mainly dedicated to the presentation of research developed by Wageningen University & Research (WUR), including population genomics of Dutch wild, restored and hatchery-produced flat oysters and epigenetics of sex determinism. Discussions notably focused on the importance of previously reported chromosome inversions, which are proving to be of great interest for future research. Additionally, the impact of hatchery breeding on genetic diversity of resulting progenies was also took up.

As discussed during the NORA 5 conference, and more specifically in the session dedicated to genetics, it was proposed to start drafting NORA guidelines about the genetics of flat oyster restoration, on the basis of questions sent by members of the Production Working Group.


There are some updates in the section of the Working Groups at the NORA website, e.g. for the Biosecurity Working Group or the Site Selection Working Group.


Project Activities

Solent Oyster Restoration Project – New film just released

'How to build an oyster reef' is the latest film from the Solent Seascape Project, that documents how the Solent Oyster Restoration Project completed their second seabed reef restoration in the Hamble Estuary, Solent UK. Besides the facts, it shows excellently the enthusiasm of the researchers and practitioners who are involved in this project.

Photo: Rachel Millar/Ulster Wildlife. Discussing oysters at Glenarm Maeina.

Please share widely with your networks, here on our NORA website or on YouTube.


Oisre Conamara Project launched

OISRE Conamara is a new restoration project aiming to rehabilitate and enhance remnant native oyster populations and habitats in Connemara, an important Irish speaking region located in the west coast of Ireland. Launched in September 2023, Oisre Conamara is as a collaboration between the Atlantic Technological University (Galway) and Údarás na Gaeltachta, who are responsible for the management of these native oyster beds on behalf of Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo (local Shellfish Co-Operative).

Photo: Oisre Conamara Project

Photo: Oisre Conamara Project

The project, aptly named Oisre (oyster in Irish), represents a coordinated effort between academia, regional state agencies and local stakeholders to provide scientific evidence that support the enhancement and restoration of the once extensive, and culturally important, native oyster beds located in Kilkieran (Cill Chiaráin) and Bertraghbui (Beirtreach Buí) Bays. These two sheltered bays host some of the last surviving wild native oyster beds in the island of Ireland, co-existing with important seagrass and maerl habitats creating a mosaic of biodiverse habitats of high conservation value. The project main aim is to map the extent and condition of these native oyster habitats, with a strong focus on the description of the biodiversity and faunal assemblages and provide evidence to identify suitable areas as sanctuaries that can serve as broodstock and nurseries, and the rejuvenation and expansion of existing oyster beds into suitable areas within their historical range using cultch, reseeding and translocation of local broodstock. The project, led by Dr. Jose M. Fariñas-Franco at ATU, just started its first phase as 4-year PhD awarded to ATU student Mateja Švonja under the Enterprise Partnership Scheme and the Employment-Based Postgraduate Programme, run by the Irish Research Council, and part funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta. For her doctoral research, Mateja is based at ATU’S Marine and Freshwater Research Centre and will be diving to chart the extent and biodiversity of the oyster beds and establish much needed metrics for restoration, define the native oyster food web dynamics and undertake cultch and translocation trials in suitable areas. She is joined by IMBRSea and Erasmus + MSc student Zoe Molder who will be based at the MFRC to investigate the presence Bonamia ostreae in some of these populations with a view to inform restoration under Dr. Fariñas-Franco and Dr. Allan McDevitt’s, also of ATU, supervision with support from Ireland’s Marine Institute.

For more information on Oisre Conamara contact Dr. Jose M. Fariñas-Franco josemaria.farinas-franco@atu.ie.

More project information, photos and the exact location in the NORA project map are coming soon.


Further Activities

JOB Opportunity at Ulster Wildlife for Marine Conservation Officer

Ulster Wildlife is looking for a full-time Marine Conservation Officer primarily focused on oyster restoration. The Marine Conservation Officer will be responsible for the development and management of a network of native oyster nurseries throughout Northern Ireland (currently in Bangor, Glenarm and Belfast). Deadline for application is January 29th.

More information and the application form can be found here. Please share the link widely.


3-year PhD student position is offered at DTU’s National Institute of Aquatic Resources

DTU Aqua looks for a PhD student. The focus of the work will lay on hatchery production of the Northern horse mussel, Modiolus modiolus (Linnaus, 1758), for reef restoration. The PhD student will be employed in the Section for Coastal Ecology to develop the hatchery production of horse mussel spat under the framework of the BioReef project.

More on the topic and the application documents and procedure can be found here.

Please be aware: the complete online application must be submitted no later than 8 February 2024 (23:59 Danish time).


Publications

The work of the Historical Ecology Working group, chaired by Dr. Ruth Thurstan at the University of Exeter, have submitted their first collaborative publications to a pre-print archive. The papers present the historical evidence for the location, extent and condition of oyster reefs across their European native range. They can currently be downloaded from a pre-print archive. The NORA community will be updated when the papers are accepted
 
Thurstan, R.H.*, McCormick, H., Preston, J., Ashton, E.C., Bennema, F.P., Bratoš Cetinić, A., Brown, J.H., Cameron, T.C., da Costa, F., Donnan, D., Ewers, C., Fortibuoni, T., Galimany, E., Giovanardi, O., Grancher, R., Grech, D., Hayden-Hughes, M., Helmer, L., Jensen, K.T., Juanes, J.A., Latchford, J., Moore, A.B.M., Moutopoulos, D.K., Nielsen, P., von Nordheim, H., Ondiviela, B., Peter, C., Pogoda, B., Poulsen, B., Pouvreau, S., Roberts, C.M., Scherer, C., Smaal, A.C., Smyth, D., Strand, Å, Theodorou, J.A., zu Ermgassen, P.S.E.*(2023). The world was our oyster: Records reveal the vast historical extent of European oyster reef ecosystems. *Joint first author. doi.org/10.32942/X20W43

Thurstan, R.H.*, McCormick, H., Preston, J., Ashton, E.C., Bennema, F.P., Bratoš Cetinić, A., Brown, J.H., Cameron, T.C., da Costa, F., Donnan, D., Ewers, C., Fortibuoni, T., Galimany, E., Giovanardi, O., Grancher, R., Grech, D., Hayden-Hughes, M., Helmer, L., Jensen, K.T., Juanes, J.A., Latchford, J., Moore, A.B.M., Moutopoulos, D.K., Nielsen, P., von Nordheim, H., Ondiviela, B., Peter, C., Pogoda, B., Poulsen, B., Pouvreau, S., Scherer, C., Smaal, A.C., Smyth, D., Strand, Å, Theodorou, J.A., zu Ermgassen, P.S.E.* (2023). Historical dataset details the distribution, extent and form of lost Ostrea edulis reef ecosystems. *Joint first author. doi.org/10.32942/X28C99


A manuscript describing the outcome of the IUCN ecosystem red listing process for European native oyster reef ecosystems is now available to read as a pre-print. The paper applies the IUCN ecosystem red listing framework to define the ecosystem and explore whether the definition is met at any sites in Europe in the present day.

P.S.E. zu Ermgassen, McCormick, H., Debney, A., Fariñas-Franco, J., Gamble, C., Gillies, C., Hancock, B., A. T. Laugen, Pouvreau, S., Preston, J., Sanderson, W., Strand, Å, Thurstan, R.H. (2023). European native oyster reef ecosystems are universally Collapsed. doi.org/10.32942/X2HP52


And a brand-new publication of an ecosystem service model: The paper combines a hydrological model, historical and present oyster data, and a filtration model to derive spatial estimates of the filtration potential of reef restoration sites in the Pensacola Bay System, Florida. The model is being used to assist in site selection.

zu Ermgassen, P. S. E., Gair, J. R., Jarvis, B., Geselbracht, L., Birch, A., Scheffel, W. A., Smith, K., & DeAngelis, B. (2024). Using an ecosystem service model to inform restoration planning: A spatially explicit oyster filtration model for Pensacola Bay, Florida. Conservation Science and Practice, e13061. doi.org/10.1111/csp2.13061