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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

Ana Rodriguez

Profile photo-sNative oyster in the wild 2sNative oyster with epifaunas

European oyster (Ostrea edulis) restoration: Marine Protected Areas and built structures

The European native flat oyster Ostrea edulis once formed vast beds along European coastlines that constituted a central ecological and socio-economic resource. These beds were biodiversity hotspots that mediated effective coastal ecosystem functioning, while harvesting of O. edulis contributed to food security and spurred local economies. Yet, centuries of overfishing, combined with more recent stressors such as coastal development, have led to the functional extinction of this habitat throughout most of its distribution range.

This project seeks to guide restoration efforts of this habitat by 1) finding suitable restoration sites in areas protected from the principal fishing pressure, such as MPAs and marine renewable energy development sites, 2) studying larval dispersal and settlement behaviour, in order to incorporate this knowledge into hydrodynamic models, and select restoration sites which can promote larval recruitment and connectivity between restored beds, and 3) studying the community development and biodiversity associated with O. edulis beds.

Ana started this PhD project in 2015. She previously obtained a B.Sc. degree in Biology at the Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen in Germany and carried out her Bachelor’s thesis in coral reef ecology in the Red Sea in Egypt. Subsequently, she completed an international M.Sc. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Ghent University in Belgium, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland and Anton-de-Kom University in Suriname. Her Master’s thesis analysed the potential of using cheap and readily available data, such as fisheries records and local ecological knowledge, to inform a small-scale shrimp fisheries in Suriname. Ana’s overall research goal is to advance marine conservation in a way that benefits society.

Ana is a student of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS), and is jointly registered at Heriot-Watt University and University of St. Andrews.


Dr. Bill Sanderson (CMBB, Heriot-Watt University)

Dr. Mark James (St. Andrews University)

Dr. David Donnan (Scottish Natural Heritage)


Scottish Natural Heritage, University of St Andrews, the Nesbitt‐Cleland Trust (St Abbs

Marine Station) and Royal Haskoning DHV