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  • Estimates of the value of habitats can provide an objective basis for the prioritisation of conservation and restoration actions. Bivalve habitats, three-dimensional structures made of high-densities of bivales (most often oysters or mussels), their shells and other organisms, used to be a dominant habitat found in temperate and subtropical coastal waters. These habitats, provide a suite of ecosystem services such as habitat provision and food supply for many species, substrate stabilisation and shoreline protection, and water quaility improvements through their filter feeding. Bivalve habitat restoration is increasingly seen as an opportunity to return lost ecosystem services. In Australia, there is growing interest in bivalve habitat restoration, but there is a knowledge gap in regards to the services they provide. Here, we determined the habitat value of a historically dominant oyster species in Australia, Saccostrea glomerata. At remnant soft-sediment oyster reefs at four locations we estimated density, biomass, productivity and composition of mobile macroinvertebrate communities and compared these with adjacent ‘bare’ soft sediments, which typically replace ecologically extinct oyster reefs. The oyster reefs had a distinct assemblage of macroinvertebrates, with 30% higher densities, 5 times the biomass and almost 5 times the productivity of adjacent bare sediments. Infauna macroinvertebrate productivity was more than twice as high below oyster reefs, suggesting these reefs facilitate infaunal productivity. Crustaceans, an important food source for small fishes, were 13 times more productive on oyster reefs compared to adjacent bare sediments. These results demonstrate that oyster reefs provide an important habitat for macroinvertebrates and that restoration efforts are likely to provide significant returns in enhanced productivity.

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    The Huon Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) covers a broad depth range from the inner continental shelf at about 70 m, to abyssal depths of more than 3000 m. The majority of the area is in deep water. The Tasman Seamounts Marine Reserve that was proclaimed in 1999 has been wholly incorporated into the Huon Commonwealth marine reserve. The reserve contains a cluster of seamounts that appear as cone-shaped submerged mountains, which provide a range of depths for a diversity of plants and animals. The peaks of many of the reserve's seamounts are between 750 m and 1000 m below the sea surface and support endemic species, including large erect corals and sponges. Some of the flora and fauna are hundreds and possibly thousands of years old, making them some of the longest-lived animals on Earth. The reserve also provides an important connection between seamounts of the Indian Ocean and the Tasman Sea. This map of the geomorphology of the Huon CMR was prepared for the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Theme D (1) project: National data collation, synthesis and visualisation to support sustainable use, management and monitoring of marine assets.