Marine Snow Increases the Adverse Effects of Oil on Benthic Invertebrates

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Benthic invertebrates, Marine snow, MOSSFA, Oil toxicity, Oil spill

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After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a MOSSFA (Marine Oil Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation) event took place, transporting an estimated 14% of total released oil to the sediment, and smothering parts of the benthic ecosystem. This microcosm study describes the effects of oiled artificial marine snow on benthic macroinvertebrates. Corophium volutator survival was reduced by 80% in oil-contaminated snow. Hydrobia ulvae survival was reduced by 40% in oil-contaminated snow, possibly due to consumption of oiled snow. Macoma balthica was sensitive to marine snow, addition of oil slightly decreased survival. This study reveals trait-dependent sensitivity to oil with or without marine snow. The main drivers for organismal response to marine snow and oil are motility, sensitivity to hypoxia and oil toxicity, and feeding habits. Adverse effects of MOSSFA events on benthos will have consequence for the benthic-pelagic habitat and food chain, and should receive more attention in oil spill management.


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Marine snow enhances the adverse effects of oil on benthic invertebrates

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Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 126, p. 339-348