Shellfish reef project wins Eureka Prize

Underwater oyster reef research

University of Adelaide marine ecologists are among a team of scientists awarded a Eureka Prize for their research towards rebuilding Australia’s lost shellfish reefs.

Dr Dominic McAfee, from the Environment Institute and the School of Biological Sciences, and Dr Heidi Alleway, from the Division of Research and Innovation, joined researchers from The Nature Conservancy, James Cook University and University of Tasmania in winning the NSW Environment, Energy and Science (DPIE) Eureka Prize for Applied Environmental Research.

Shellfish reefs, once common across the temperate bays and estuaries of southern Australia, have been overexploited to near extinction.

This research has documented the decline and provided the knowledge required to successfully commence restoring them and their vital ecosystem services, such as cleaner water, more fish and protected shorelines.

Much of the groundwork for the research stems from Dr Heidi Alleway’s work with Professor Sean Connell on the ecological baseline for SA’s shellfish reefs, published in the journal Conservation Biology in 2015.

This work was pivotal to realising Australia’s first large-scale restoration – the Windara Reef, Yorke Peninsula.

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