Crabs, insects, and spiders in coastal salt marshes affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 were both quite vulnerable to oil exposure, but also resilient enough to recover within a year if their host plants remained healthy, according to a study published Mar. 7 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
The researchers, graduate student Brittany McCall and her advisor Steven Pennings at the University of Houston, sampled communities of terrestrial arthropods and marine invertebrates in coastal salt marshes at two time points: in 2010 as oil washed ashore, and again a year later. They found that the crab and terrestrial arthropod populations were suppressed in 2010, even in seemingly unaffected areas, but they had largely recovered after one year. "These results were very important," said Pennings, "because they show that we can't assume that the marsh is healthy just because the plants are still alive".
Citation: McCall BD, Pennings SC (2012) Disturbance and Recovery of Salt Marsh Arthropod Communities Following BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. PLoS ONE 7(3): e32735. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032735
Financial Disclosure: We thank the National Science Foundation (OCE10-45221, OCE06-20959) for financial support. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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