Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Crassostrea gigas
(Pacific oyster)



Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Vector of Animal Disease
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Crassostrea gigas
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Pacific oyster
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Mollusca
  •       Class: Bivalvia
  •         Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Although highly variable, the invasiveness pattern of C. gigas has been demonstrated in several countries and it is therefore considered as a pest or a noxious species in such areas (

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Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); oyster. Marennes-Oléron, Charente-Maritime, France. December, 2005.
TitleAdult shell
CaptionCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); oyster. Marennes-Oléron, Charente-Maritime, France. December, 2005.
Copyright©David Monniaux-2005/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); oyster. Marennes-Oléron, Charente-Maritime, France. December, 2005.
Adult shellCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); oyster. Marennes-Oléron, Charente-Maritime, France. December, 2005.©David Monniaux-2005/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); normal oyster shell.
CaptionCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); normal oyster shell.
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); normal oyster shell.
ShellCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); normal oyster shell. ©IFREMER
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); veliger larvae.
CaptionCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); veliger larvae.
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); veliger larvae.
LarvaeCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); veliger larvae. ©IFREMER
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); pediveliger larva. Note scale bar.
CaptionCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); pediveliger larva. Note scale bar.
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); pediveliger larva. Note scale bar.
LarvaCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); pediveliger larva. Note scale bar. ©IFREMER
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); eyed larvae.
CaptionCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); eyed larvae.
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); eyed larvae.
LarvaeCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); eyed larvae. ©IFREMER
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); natural recruitment of C. gigas oysters - natural bed soft bottom.
TitleNatural recruitment
CaptionCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); natural recruitment of C. gigas oysters - natural bed soft bottom.
Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); natural recruitment of C. gigas oysters - natural bed soft bottom.
Natural recruitmentCrassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster); natural recruitment of C. gigas oysters - natural bed soft bottom. ©IFREMER


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Crassostrea gigas (Thunberg, 1793)

Preferred Common Name

  • Pacific oyster

Other Scientific Names

  • Crassostrea angulata Lamarck, 1819

International Common Names

  • English: Pacific cupped oyster; Pacific giant oyster; Portuguese oyster
  • Spanish: ostión japanés

Local Common Names

  • Australia/New South Wales: Pacific king oyster; Pacific rock oyster
  • France: huître creuse du Pacifique
  • Japan: magaki
  • USA: giant Pacific oyster; Japanese oyster

Summary of Invasiveness

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Although highly variable, the invasiveness pattern of C. gigas has been demonstrated in several countries and it is therefore considered as a pest or a noxious species in such areas (Ashton, 2001; Blake, 2001; Orensanz et al., 2002). This has prompted state managers to implement transfer restrictions and eradication programmes (e.g., Australia) (Ayres, 1991). In other regions, the species poses no problem, being considered of economic interest (McKenzie et al., 1997; Leppäkoski et al., 2002; Escapa et al., 2004).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Mollusca
  •             Class: Bivalvia
  •                 Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  •                     Order: Ostreoida
  •                         Unknown: Ostreoidea
  •                             Family: Ostreidae
  •                                 Genus: Crassostrea
  •                                     Species: Crassostrea gigas


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C. gigas has an elongated rough shell, which can reach a 20-30 cm size. Although highly variable, the two valves are solid but unequal in size and shape (CIESM, 2000; Hughes, 2002). The left valve is slightly convex and the right valve is quite deep and cup shaped. One valve is usually cemented to hard substrata. Shells are sculpted with large irregular, rounded radial folds. Radial ribs are on both shells starting from the umbo. Usually whitish, they show purple streaks and spots. Its inner side is white. The adductor muscle scar is kidney shaped.


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Originating from the northeastern Asia, C. gigas is endemic to Japan, but has been introduced and translocated, mainly for aquaculture purposes, to a number of countries, almost worldwide (CIESM, 2000; CSIRO, 2002; Leppäkoski et al., 2002; NIMPIS, 2002; Wolff and Reise, 2002). In North America, the species can be found from southeast Alaska to Baja California, USA whereas in European waters the species is cultured from Norway to Portugal as well as in the Mediterranean Sea (McKenzie et al., 1997). Biological characteristics make it suitable for a wide range of environmental conditions, although it is usually found in coastal and estuarine areas within its natural range.

It has been introduced to Senegal (P Goulletquer, Ifremer, France, personal commuincation, 2004). 

With regard to suitable rearing areas, the main constraint is carrying capacity. Usually coastal and estuarine areas are highly productive, due to the freshwater inputs and the resulting primary productivity. Therefore, large food availability facilitates more intensive rearing densities. Since C. gigas is highly tolerant to seawater temperature and salinity range, it has the capacity to grow in highly variable environments from estuarine areas to brackish waters to offshore areas in oceanic waters. The fact that seed is widely available, and can be easily transferred, facilitates the use of those various environments, even in areas where no natural recruitment occurs. In contrast, natural recruitment areas are usually located in coastal estuarine waters, impacted by freshwater inputs. Larval survival rate is driven by a temperature-salinity combination, which is optimum in slightly desalinated areas. From a geographic point of view, the worldwide distribution of C. gigas demonstrates that only the equatorial and polar regions are less favourable for culture.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Atlantic, Eastern CentralPresentIntroducedLihlou, 1985; Rharbi et al., 2003
Atlantic, NortheastPresentIntroducedGoulletquer et al., 1994
Atlantic, NorthwestPresentIntroducedMann et al., 1994; Allen et al., 1996
Atlantic, SoutheastPresentIntroducedHenry and Davis, 1983
Atlantic, SouthwestPresentIntroducedBorges et al., 2002; Orensanz et al., 2002
Atlantic, Western CentralPresentIntroducedAllain, 1975; Yoo, 1976
Indian Ocean, EasternPresentIntroducedAyres, 1991
Indian Ocean, WesternPresentIntroducedBrusca and Ardil, 1974; FARC, 2002
Mediterranean and Black SeaPresentIntroducedGoulletquer et al., 1994
Pacific, Eastern CentralPresentIntroducedAdams et al., 2001
Pacific, NortheastPresentNativeChew, 1988
Pacific, NorthwestPresentNativeShaw, 1978
Pacific, SoutheastPresentIntroducedNIMPIS, 2002
Pacific, SouthwestPresentIntroducedChanley and Dinamani, 1980
Pacific, Western CentralPresentIntroducedAdams et al., 2001


ChinaPresentNativeQi, 1989; Wang et al., 1993; Yu et al., 2003
-GuangxiPresentNativeWu and Guoxin, 1995
-HebeiPresentNativeWang and Van, 1997
-Hong KongPresentNativeMok, 1974; Morris, 1985; Chan et al., 1999; Boudry et al., 2003
-LiaoningPresentNativeQi, 1989; Shui et al., 2002
-ShandongPresentQi, 1989; Newkirk, 1991; Liang et al., 2000; Nunes et al., 2003
-ZhejiangPresentNativeYou et al., 2000
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedTaw, 2001
IsraelPresentIntroducedShpigel et al., 1991
JapanPresentNativeShaw, 1978
-HokkaidoPresentNativeFriedman, 1996
-HonshuPresentNativeHayakawa et al., 2001; Kohata et al., 2003
-KyushuPresentNativeSzefer et al., 1997
Korea, DPRPresentNativeBae et al., 1978; Yo and Hong, 1996; Kang et al., 2000
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
TaiwanPresentNativeChen and Chen, 2003
TurkeyPresentIntroducedÇevik et al., 2001


Cape VerdePresentIntroducedMerino, 2002
MauritaniaPresentIntroducedSidoumou et al., 1999
MauritiusPresentIntroducedBrusca and Ardil, 1974; MacDonald et al., 2003
MoroccoPresentIntroducedLihlou, 1985; Shafee, 1986; Rharbi et al., 2003
NamibiaPresentIntroducedAnonymous, 2002; MacDonald et al., 2003
SeychellesPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henry and Davis, 1983; Calvo-Ugarteburu and Allanson, 1998; MacDonald et al., 2003
TunisiaPresentIntroducedMadhioub and Zaouali, 1988; Minelli et al., 1995

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedHeritage and Bourne, 1975; Quayle, 1988; Heath and Bourne, 1998
MexicoPresentIntroducedHaro et al., 1981; Baquiero, 1997
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedFoster, 1997; Paust and Ralonde, 1997; Ralonde, 1998; Chew, 2001
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedFriedman and Hedrick, 1995; Friedman, 1996
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedHunter et al., 1995
-MainePresentIntroducedDean, 1979; Mann, 1979; Shatkin et al., 1997
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedHickey, 1979; Mann, 1979
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedGrabowski et al., 2003
-OregonPresentIntroducedRobinson, 1998; Evans et al., 2003
-TexasPresentIntroducedRoels et al., 1979
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedBurreson et al., 1994; Mann et al., 1994; Barber, 1996; Calvo and Luckenbach, 1998
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedChew, 1988

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedZuniga et al., 1998; Arias et al., 1999
CubaPresentAlvarez, 1991
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAllain, 1975
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedMcKenzie and Lopez, 1997
PanamaPresentIntroducedMorales de Ruiz V, 1990
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedDIAS, 2005

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Orensanz et al., 2002
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-BahiaPresentIntroducedSimoes-Ramos et al., 1986
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedMuniz et al., 1986
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedCoehlo et al., 2003
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedOstini and Pereira, 1996
ChilePresentIntroducedSotomayor and Tapia, 1989; Neilson, 1998; Chow et al., 2001
EcuadorPresentOsorio, 1990; Terranova, 1999
PeruPresentIntroducedCisneros et al., 1995; Cisneros, 1996
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedYoo, 1976


BelgiumPresentIntroducedLeloup, 1980; Coutteau et al., 1997; Nehring, 2011
CroatiaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011Established
CyprusPresentIntroducedZibrowius, 1992
DenmarkPresentIntroducedHoffmann, 1981; Nehring, 2011
FrancePresentIntroducedGoulletquer et al., 2002
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedGoulletquer and Héral, 1997; Allan et al., 2001
GermanyPresentIntroducedNeudecker, 1982; Reise, 1998; Drinkwaard, 1999; Wehrmann et al., 2000; Nehring, 2011
GreecePresentIntroducedDimitrakis, 1989
IrelandPresentIntroducedSteele and Mulcahy, 1999; McMahon, 2000; Nehring, 2011
ItalyPresentIntroduced Invasive Matta, 1969; Ghisotti, 1971; Sarà and Mazzola, 1997; Occhipinti Ambrogi, 2001
MaltaPresentIntroducedAgius et al., 1978
NetherlandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Smaal and Lucas, 2000; Nehring, 2011
NorwayPresentIntroducedMortensen, 1993; Aune et al., 1998; Nehring, 2011
PortugalPresentIntroducedAlmeida et al., 1999; Bernardino, 2000
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedKaufmann et al., 1994; Andrade, 1995
RomaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Russian Far EastPresentNativeKristoforova et al., 1994; Kulikova and Sergeenko, 2003
-Southern RussiaPresentIntroducedZolotnitskij and Monina, 1992; Milyutin and Frolov, 1997
SloveniaPresentIntroduced Invasive De and Vio, 1998
SpainPresentIntroducedCigarría, 1999; Sanchez-Mata and Mora, 2000
SwedenIntroduced, not establishedIntroducedDAISIE, 2011; Nehring, 2011
UKPresentIntroduced Invasive Utting and Spencer, 1992
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedGoulletquer and Héral, 1997
UkrainePresentIntroducedKulikova et al., 1997
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentIntroducedStjepcevic et al., 1977; Igic, 1983


AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Thomson, 1951; Ayres, 1991
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Nell, 2002
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedOlsen, 1977; Baghurst and Mitchell, 2002
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedNell, 2002
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedMAFRI, 2001
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedAyres, 1991
FijiPresentIntroducedFAO, 1972; Ritchie, 1977
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedAQUACOP, 1977
GuamPresentIntroducedClarke, 1997; SPC aquaculture portal, 2002
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedAdams et al., 2001
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Dinamani, 1991
PalauPresentIntroducedMMDC, 1975
SamoaPresentIntroducedSPC aquaculture portal, 2002
TongaPresentIntroducedWilkinson, 1975; SPC aquaculture portal, 2002
VanuatuPresentIntroducedAdams et al., 2001; SPC aquaculture portal, 2002

History of Introduction and Spread

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For a detailed review of the history of introduction of this species see Nehring (2011).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Argentina Chile 1982 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector Yes Orensanz et al. (2002)
Brazil Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government|Individual
British Columbia Japan 1912 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector Yes
California Japan 1928 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government|Private sector Yes Shaw (1978)
Fiji California 1968-1977 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government|International organisationSPC aquaculture portal (2002)
Fiji Philippines 1968-1977 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government|International organisationSPC aquaculture portal (2002)
France British Columbia 1966 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government|Private sector Yes Goulletquer et al. (2002)
France Japan 1966 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government|Private sector Yes Goulletquer et al. (2002)
French Polynesia California 1972, 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
GovernmentDIAS (2005)
Guam Taiwan 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFitzgerald (1982)
Guam Taiwan 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentSPC aquaculture portal (2002)
Ireland UK 1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government|Private sector Yes DIAS (2005)
Java Tasmania 2000 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government|Private sector
Maine 1949 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
GovernmentShatkin et al. (1997)
Mauritius California 1971-1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government|Private sector
Netherlands British Columbia 1964-1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes
Netherlands Japan 1964-1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes
New Caledonia Japan 1967 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector Yes DIAS (2005)
New Zealand Japan 1970 (1958) Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Interconnected waterways (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes Pollard and Hutchings (1990)
Palau California 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownPflum (1972)
South Australia 1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes
Tasmania 1947 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes
Tonga Fiji 1974 Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentWilkinson (1975)
UK British Columbia 1926, 1965 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government|Private sector Yes Yes Utting and Spencer (1992)
Vanuatu California 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownDIAS (2005)
Victoria 1953 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes
Washington Japan 1902-1970s Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector Yes Chew (1990)
Western Australia Japan 1947 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes CSIRO (2002); DIAS (2005)

Habitat List

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Rocky shores Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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C. gigas has 10 pairs of chromosomes (2n=20), although aneuploid individuals can be found (2n=19, 18, 17) (Leitao et al., 1999; Bouilly et al., 2004).

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
disolved organic matter (amino-acids) Adult/Broodstock/Larval
particulate inorganic matter Adult/Broodstock/Larval
particulate organic matter Adult/Broodstock/Larval
phytoplankton Adult/Broodstock/Larval


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A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
D - Continental/Microthermal climate Tolerated Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
4-nonyphenol (µg mass per litre) <0.1 Harmful Larval D-shape larvae delayed - shell deformities and growth abnormality
Arsenic (mg/l) 326 920 Harmful Egg
atrazine (µg mass per litre) <10 Harmful Larval herbicide inducing genetic aneuploidy and reducing larval survival rate
atrazine (µg mass per litre) 500 (growth affected) 1000 (mortality) Harmful Fry herbicide inducing genetic aneuploidy and reducing larval survival rate
Boron (mg/l) <=1 Optimum Adult limited bioaccumulation - equilibrium between oyster concentration and that in surrounding seawater - no prolonged retention following cessation of dosage
Cadmium (mg/l) 0.5* Optimum Adult * threshold considered as safe for human consumption
Cadmium (mg/l) 19.5 Harmful Adult * threshold considered as safe for human consumption
Cadmium (mg/l) 19.5 Harmful Broodstock * threshold considered as safe for human consumption
Cadmium (mg/l) 10 >100 Harmful Larval * threshold considered as safe for human consumption
Cadmium (mg/l) 611 >2500 Harmful Egg * threshold considered as safe for human consumption
Chromium (mg/l) 4538 Harmful Egg
Chromium (mg/l) 10 20 Harmful Larval
Copper (mg/l) >16-32 Harmful Adult
Copper (mg/l) >16-32 Harmful Broodstock
Copper (mg/l) 10 100 Harmful Egg
Copper (mg/l) 24 100 Harmful Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <4 Harmful Larval can resist short periods of time in anoxic conditions by closing valves and adapting physiology
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 100 Optimum Adult can resist short periods of time in anoxic conditions by closing valves and adapting physiology
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 100 Optimum Broodstock can resist short periods of time in anoxic conditions by closing valves and adapting physiology
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 100 Optimum Egg can resist short periods of time in anoxic conditions by closing valves and adapting physiology
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 100 Optimum Larval can resist short periods of time in anoxic conditions by closing valves and adapting physiology
Dyes (mg/l) >10 Harmful Egg
Dyes (mg/l) >10 Harmful Larval
Lead (mg/l) 758 Harmful Egg
Lead (mg/l) 10 20 Harmful Larval
Mercury (mg/l) 1.1 Harmful Adult
Mercury (mg/l) 1.1 Harmful Broodstock
Mercury (mg/l) 32 200 Harmful Larval
Mercury (mg/l) 5.7 32 Harmful Egg
Nickel (mg/l) 349 Harmful Egg
Nickel (mg/l) 10 20 Harmful Larval
Oils and refined products (mg/l) <1 Harmful Egg (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons)
Oils and refined products (mg/l) >150-200 PAHs Harmful Adult (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons)
Phytoplankton toxins (mg/l) DSP (mouse test <2 in 4 h); PSP (>80 µg/100 g meat); ASP (>20 µg/g meat) Harmful Adult positive test resulting in public health problem
Rubidium chloride salts (mg/l) 300 Harmful Adult
Rubidium chloride salts (mg/l) 300 Harmful Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) >35 Harmful Egg euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) 30 Optimum Larval euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) <10 >34 Harmful Larval euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) <5-10 >45 Harmful Adult euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) <5-10 >45 Harmful Broodstock euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) 13 29 Optimum Broodstock euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) 20 30 Optimum Adult euryhaline species
Salinity (part per thousand) 25 30 Optimum Egg euryhaline species
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) <15 >31 Harmful Broodstock
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) 20 25 Optimum Broodstock
Turbidity (JTU turbidity) >190 Harmful Adult reduction in infiltration rate due to physical constraints - gill clogging
Turbidity (JTU turbidity) >190 Harmful Broodstock reduction in infiltration rate due to physical constraints - gill clogging
Water pH (pH) <6.75 Harmful Larval C. virginica
Water pH (pH) >9 Harmful Broodstock C. virginica
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <18 >30-35 Harmful Larval temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <19 >30 Harmful Egg temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <3 >35 Harmful Adult temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <3 >35 Harmful Broodstock temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 11 34 Optimum Adult temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 25 Optimum Broodstock temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 30 Optimum Larval temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 24 26 Optimum Egg temperature-salinity combination is the driving factor for larval survival rate
Zinc (mg/l) 10 >500 Harmful Larval bioaccumulation for oysters can reach up to 9000 µg/g in adult oysters living in polluted areas
Zinc (mg/l) 119 3200 Harmful Egg bioaccumulation for oysters can reach up to 9000 µg/g in adult oysters living in polluted areas

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Asterias Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Aves Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Cancer productus Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Carcinus maenas Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Dasyatidae Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Mytilicola Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Ocinebrellus inornatus Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Polydora Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Pseudostylochus Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry
Rapana venosa Predator Adult/Broodstock/Fry

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes Yes Minchin and Gollasch, 2008; Nehring, 2011

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Ship ballast water and sediment Yes Minchin and Gollasch, 2008
Ship hull fouling Yes Minchin and Gollasch, 2008
WaterPelagic larvae dispersed by water currents Yes Minchin and Gollasch, 2008

Impact Summary

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Crop production Positive
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive
Livestock production Positive
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Tourism Positive

Economic Impact

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Considering that only about 5.25% of the worldwide production originates from its native range, C. gigas overall introduction has had a highly significant economic impact, amounting to US $3305 million on a yearly production basis (FAO, 2004a). In several countries, the introduction has resulted in building a sustainable shellfish industry providing direct revenues for thousands of farmers and concomitant activities (e.g., equipment). Moreover, a highly valuable (and unaccountable) indirect economic impact concerns the lasting establishment of coastal communities in otherwise unfavourable rural areas, therefore playing a significant role in coastal management values. As an example, the 1970s oyster crisis in European waters following the fast disappearance of disease-impacted Crassostrea angulata populations was solved by the introduction of C. gigas which saved the collapsing industry (Goulletquer and Héral, 1992; NAS, 2004). In contrast, the introduction of C. gigas has had economic side effects in several countries such as Australia (New South Wales), where the native Sydney rock oyster was partly outcompeted by C. gigas, leading to the collapse of several businesses. Indirect economic impacts concern increasing coastal management costs to limit C. gigas reef expansion, and eradication costs.

Environmental Impact

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The potential environmental impacts related to C. gigas introduction are:

  • displacement of native species where C. gigas develops breeding populations and becomes an invasive species in several countries (New Zealand, Australia), competing for food and space by building massive oyster beds through its natural spat settlement and recruitment
  • benthic-pelagic interactions and likely food web modifications
  • habitat change
  • hybridization with local oyster species
  • transfer of parasites, diseases and pest species concomitant to oyster transfer (FAO, 1995; FAC/NACA, 2000; Galil and Zenetos, 2002; OIE, 2003).

It is acknowledged that the macrophyte algae, Sargassum muticum, was introduced concomitantly with oyster spat in European waters leading to local algal species displacement due to the algae invasive pattern (Wolff and Reise, 2002). Shell-borers such as Polydora sp. are commensal to oysters and can be transferred concomitantly, then colonizing other shellfish species (Leppäkoski et al., 2002).

Impact: Biodiversity

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Since the species has been a leading candidate for shellfish culture worldwide and its artificial production using hatchery techniques is well controlled, introductions in sensitive environments have been numerous. In several countries, uncontrolled natural reproduction has led to a significant species expansion and natural breeding stocks (Kater and Baars, 2004). Positive and negative effects have resulted from habitat changes through reef building capacity (Jones et al., 1997; Gutièrrez et al., 2003); increased habitat volume and protective ecological niches were reported, similarly to the artificial reef building approach, while siltation has impacted benthic community structures. False Bay, a natural reserve in San Juan Island (Washington, USA) has been studied extensively since 1989. C. gigas recruitment was first observed in 1997, followed by a rapid expansion which has reached two other marine reserves since then (Ashton, 2001). Although impacts are still unknown, it was noticed that native primary space occupiers were eliminated within the intertidal zone. Moreover, there is a concern that the first marine protected area (MPA) from Argentina coast (UNESCO classified) was being impacted by arrival of Undaria sp. and C. gigas species. A maritime regional park in France (Brittany) is undergoing a colonization by C. gigas, resulting from either climate change and/or adaptation to this environment.

Hybridization among Crassostrea species has been well studied and demonstrated in specific cases (NAS, 2004). Crosses between C. ariakensis and C. gigas are viable, whereas C. ariakensis has been cultured throughout southern China and Japan for over 300 years (NAS, 2004). Moreover, several C. gigas races or morphotypes are found in Japan. Therefore, some hybridization has already likely occured in nature during decades of transfer and worldwide introductions. In Washington State (USA), hybridization between Crassostrea sikamea and C. gigas occurred from 1960 to 1990, following a lack of broodstock management. It can be expected that reduction of genetic diversity has occurred in some way. Moreover, this process has been likely underestimated due to the oyster plasticity and in the past the lack of genetic markers (now available). Two rare alleles in New Zealand Pacific oysters have been recorded previously only in the rock oyster, Saccostrea glomerata. Similarly, natural hybridization between genetically differentiated populations of C. gigas and C. angulata was demonstrated (Huvet et al., 2004a). Therefore, the remaining populations of the C. angulata ecotype in Portugal are at threat from current culture development and extensive transfers of C. gigas (Huvet et al., 2000b).

Social Impact

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The C. gigas industry is contributing significantly to coastal management as a permanent, year-round, coastal user. Therefore, it contributes to coastal communitie’s economic sustainability, and represents a stakeholder within the integrated coastal zone management process. Since the oyster industry requires suitable seawater quality for public health reasons, it also contributes to environmental long-term monitoring. Considered as a traditional activity in several producing countries, C. gigas culture has been of interest for ‘green’ tourism development.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Fast growing
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Hybridization

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Canned meat
  • Cured meat
  • Fresh meat
  • Frozen meat
  • Live product for human consumption
  • Whole


  • Shell


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Links to Websites

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BAC libraries (CUGI)
ESTs French database
Korean Gene database
Lynx Therapeutics Inc
Molluscan Broodstock Program (MBP)
MOREST Research Program (survival rate selection)
UK Non-Native Organism Risk Assessment Scheme - Crassostrea gigas


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Main Author
Philippe Goulletquer
Laboratoire Génétique et Pathologie (LGP), IFREMER, Avenue de Mus de Loup, BP 133, 17390 La Tremblade, France

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