Coral communities as indicators of ecosystem-level impacts of the deepwater horizon spill

Charles R. Fisher, Amanda W J Demopoulos, Erik E. Cordes, Iliana B. Baums, Helen K. White, Jill R. Bourque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The Macondo oil spill released massive quantities of oil and gas from a depth of 1500 meters. Although a buoyant plume carried released hydrocarbons to the sea surface, as much as half stayed in the water column and much of that in the deep sea. After the hydrocarbons reached the surface, weathering processes, burning, and the use of a dispersant caused hydrocarbon-rich marine snow to sink into the deep sea. As a result, this spill had a greater potential to affect deep-sea communities than had any previous spill. Here, we review the literature on impacts on deep-sea communities from the Macondo blowout and provide additional data on sediment hydrocarbon loads and the impacts on sediment infauna in areas with coral communities around the Macondo well. We review the literature on the genetic connectivity of deep-sea species in the Gulf of Mexico and discuss the potential for wider effects on deep Gulf coral communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)796-807
Number of pages12
JournalBioScience
Volume64
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Fisher, C. R., Demopoulos, A. W. J., Cordes, E. E., Baums, I. B., White, H. K., & Bourque, J. R. (2014). Coral communities as indicators of ecosystem-level impacts of the deepwater horizon spill. BioScience, 64(9), 796-807. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu129