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Crabs, Insects And Spiders Vulnerable To Oil Spill, But Also Resilient

March 8, 2012

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”.

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