Researchers conducted mesocosm experiments that simulated beach ecosystems to assess if razor clams, which are bioturbators, can influence environmental conditions and the fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
A Louisiana State University researcher conducted laboratory experiments to learn how estuarine fish behave around sediments containing varying concentrations of weathered and fresh oil. He observed that fish exhibited a stronger avoidance response to medium and high concentrations of fresh oil compared to low concentrations and observed no significant avoidance of any weathered oil concentrations.
Scientists analyzed sediment cores from two sites near the Macondo wellhead to characterize possible spill impacts on benthic foraminifera (single celled organisms with a hard shell). The team found elevated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations and a significant decrease in density and species diversity for foraminifera.
Oil droplets can attach to tiny sediment particles suspended in the water column, causing them to sink to the seafloor where they can linger for a long time. Sediment grain size influences if and how oil droplets are resuspended into the water column.
The ecological consequences of an environmental disaster can extend further than one may imagine as effects propagate through interconnected food webs. Most recently, researchers in the US have found evidence suggesting that oil from the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spillage has been incorporated into birds living on land.
Scientists from Haverford College examined Gulf of Mexico sediment and flocculent material (floc) associated with oil-impacted corals to study indigenous microbial communities and their oil degradation potential.