Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible, experts say

Date:
March 8, 2012
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
A new study shows that arthropods living in coastal salt marshes affected by BP oil spill were damaged but they were able to recover if their host plants remained healthy.

Crabs, insects and spiders living in coastal salt marshes affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster were damaged by the massive oil spill but were able to recover within a year if their host plants remained healthy, researchers say.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Houston

Crabs, insects and spiders living in coastal salt marshes affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster were damaged by the massive oil spill but were able to recover within a year if their host plants remained healthy, according to a University of Houston study published March 7 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Related Articles


In one of the first studies to look at how oil spills affect salt marsh arthropods, Brittany McCall, a UH graduate student, and biology professor Steven Pennings, her adviser, sampled terrestrial arthropods and marine invertebrates at the time of the oil spill, as well as a year later.

The April 2010 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon resulted in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that washed ashore, damaging a number of coastal areas.

McCall and Pennings received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study some of the coastal salt marshes affected by the spill. They gathered samples in areas where relatively low levels of oil were present but the plants still appeared healthy and undamaged. They found that in these areas, the numbers of crabs, insects and spiders were reduced by up to 50 percent because of the oil exposure.

"This study demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving," Pennings said. "Arthropods are quite vulnerable to oil exposure. These results are very important because they show that we can't assume that the marsh is healthy just because the plants are still alive."

However, the fact that some plant life remained intact in these areas apparently was key to how the arthropods recovered. When the UH researchers sampled the same areas a year later, all three groups appeared to have recovered, suggesting that arthropods affected by oil may recover if their host plants remain healthy.

"Salt marshes are commonly disturbed by natural events and, as a result, they may be able to also recover from oil spills if the oil disturbance is not too large," Pennings said.

Oil spills pose a major threat to coastal wetlands, but the exact environmental costs are difficult to measure because experiments cannot replicate large environmental catastrophes.

Because each oil spill is different, McCall and Pennings cautioned against extrapolating their results to all oil spills.

"The effect of oil on the marsh is likely to vary depending on how much oil gets ashore and how much it has weathered," McCall said. "In the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the marshes may have dodged a bullet because relatively little oil made it into the marshes, and the oil had weathered for several weeks."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brittany D. McCall, Steven C. Pennings. Disturbance and Recovery of Salt Marsh Arthropod Communities following BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (3): e32735 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032735

Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308101627.htm>.
University of Houston. (2012, March 8). BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308101627.htm
University of Houston. "BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308101627.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins