Page tree
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Building with Nature Guideline
The content of the Building with Nature guidelines was moved to
Click the link above if you are not automatically redirected within 10 seconds.

Home BwN Approach Building solutions Projects Toolbox

Building with Nature Guideline > Building Solutions > Ecosystem engineers > Habitat requirements for shellfish 

Log in  


Habitat requirements for shellfish


This Building Solution focuses on the creation of shellfish (bivalve) reefs that change the near-bed flow and dissipate wave energy on intertidal flats, thereby influencing sediment transport, erosion and deposition. It describes the habitat requirements for shellfish reefs in soft sediment habitats, based on experience with the Pacific Oyster. The advantage of oysters compared to other shellfish such as mussels is that, due to its strong ‘cement-like’ coagulation, they stay attached to the substrate after dying and are therefore capable of forming stable and sustainable reefs. This guideline can be used to check whether a certain location is suitable or can be made suitable for the establishment of oyster reefs.

 Read more


Determination flowchart for shellfish

How to Use



If an ecosystem engineer is considered to be included in a design for coastal protection or coastal rehabilitation, several questions need answering:

  • Is it possible to create a suitable habitat for a specific ecosystem in the project area?
  • What would be the envisaged services provided by this ecosystem?
  • To what extent can the ecosystem contribute to the primary function of the design and how does this affect the design itself? For example, what dimensions of a shellfish reef are needed to reduce erosion or stabilize sediment? And what dimensions to act as an efficient wave reflector?
  • What effects do the ecosystem engineers in this ecosystem have on the existing physical, ecological and socio-economical system?
  • What are the costs, uncertainties and risks ensuing from including these ecosystem engineers in the design?


In this Building Solution, the focus lies on the habitat requirements for shellfish. The determination flowchart gives a first answer to the suitability of the project area as a habitat for shellfish. Other questions can be elaborated in subsequent or parallel steps.

Read more



Practical Applications

This section describes the application of the Building Solution to a practical case. The study area for this application is the Eastern Scheldt (SW Netherlands). A separate Project Shellfish reefs page exists, which describes the phases in the design and construction process of the oyster reefs in the Eastern Scheldt. In the practical application described on this page, the flowchart is discussed by explaining and applying the text and values in the balloons.

Read more





Back to Top

  • No labels