Fate of particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the river-influenced continental margin of the northern Gulf of Mexico

This study utilizes suspended particles and seafloor sediments collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) continental margin to study the fate, transport, residence times and accumulation rates of particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Total particulate-PAHs and particulate organic carbon (POC) varied between 0.9 and 7.0 ng/L, and 4–131 μg/L, respectively. Particulate-PAHs were positively correlated with POC, while both particulate-PAHs and POC were negatively correlated with salinity (P-value < 0.05). These results show that the river-derived particle influx and associated POC are important vectors for transport and fate of particulate-PAHs in the river-dominated northern GOM continental ecosystems. The composition of underlying seafloor sediment-PAHs were not correlated to the water column particulate-PAHs, which is attributed to re-mineralization, sediment resuspension/redistribution and different timescales of comparison. The 210Pb-derived residence time of particles and associated particulate-PAHs in water column varied between 2 and 39 days. Residence times of particulate-PAHs were significantly correlated with seafloor sediment-PAHs accumulation rates, shorter water column residence times leading to higher PAHs accumulation rates.

Study Finds Hurricane Isaac Prolonged Oil Spill Impacts on Some Marsh Insects and Spiders

Researchers collected and analyzed terrestrial arthropods from Louisiana marshes to determine the combined effects from Deepwater Horizon and Hurricane Isaac on saltmarsh ecosystems. The initial oiling from the spill (2010) followed by the oil’s redistribution during Hurricane Isaac (2012) negatively affected some arthropod groups three-four years after the spill. The degree of impact varied by taxa, with some arthropod groups not showing effects from the re-oiling. Overall abundance and taxonomic diversity of terrestrial arthropods increased from 2013 to 2014 at all sites, suggesting recovery. However, taxonomic richness was higher at reference sites for both years than at oiled sites, indicating possible long-term impacts from these disturbances. The researchers published their findings in PLoS ONECoupled effects of oil spill and hurricane on saltmarsh terrestrial arthropods.

More details at: http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/study-finds-hurricane-isaac-prolonged-oil-spill-impacts-marsh-insects-spiders/

Coupled effects of oil spill and hurricane on saltmarsh terrestrial arthropods

Wokil Bam*, Linda M. Hooper-Bui, Rachel M. Strecker, Puspa L. Adhikari, Edward
B. Overton

Terrestrial arthropods play an important role in saltmarsh ecosystems, mainly affecting the saltmarsh’s primary production as the main consumers of terrestrial primary production and decomposition. Some of these arthropods, including selected insects and spiders, can be used as ecological indicators of overall marsh environmental health, as they are differential sensitive to ecological stressors, such as land loss, erosion, oil spills, and tropical storms. In the present study, we used terrestrial arthropods collected from seven (three lightly-oiled, four heavily-oiled) sites in Barataria Bay and from three unoiled reference sites in Delacroix, Louisiana, to determine the impacts of the distribution and re-distribution of Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil on these saltmarsh ecosystems. A total of 9,476 and 12,256 insects were collected in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The results show that the terrestrial arthropods were negatively affected by the re-distribution of DWH oil by Hurricane Isaac in 2012, although the level of impacts varied among the arthropod groups. Moreover, the mean diversity index was higher (>1.5) in 2014 than in 2013 (<1.5) for all sites, suggesting a recovery trajectory of
the saltmarsh arthropod population. The higher taxonomic richness observed in the reference sites compared to the oiled sites for both years also indicated long-term impacts of DWH oil to the saltmarsh arthropod community. Whereas a slow recovery of certain terrestrial arthropods was observed, long-term monitoring of arthropod communities would help better understand the recovery and succession of the marsh ecosystems.


Temporal variability in sediment PAHs accumulation in the northern Gulf of Mexico Shelf

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous group of organic pollutants, some of which are known to be toxic, and/or carcinogenic to humans. The major source of these PAHs into the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) are Mississippi River discharge, coastal erosion, atmospheric deposition, and numerous natural oil seeps and spills. In addition to these background source of PAHs, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in 2010 added ~21,000 tons of PAHs into the NGOM water. In this study, we measured PAHs distribution and accumulation rates in coastal sediments near the Mississippi River mouth in 2011 and 2015 to understand the effect of DWH oil spill in PAHs accumulation in coastal sediments. Sediment cores were collected and sliced at 1 cm interval to measure PAHs concentration, and to estimate 210Pb-based sedimentation and the PAHs’ accumulation rates. The results showed that the sediment deposition rates in this region varied between 0.5 to 0.9 cm/yr. The results also showed that the concentration of total PAHs (ΣPAH43) and their accumulation rates vary between 68 – 100 ng g-1 and 7 – 160 ng cm-2 yr-1, respectively. While the PAHs accumulation rate in coastal sediment varied over the years, there is no significant variation in PAHs accumulation rate before and after the DWH oil spill.



2017 Outstanding Student Paper Award Winners at AGU Fall Meeting for this presentation.

Evaluation of Spatial-Temporal Variations of Water Quality and Plankton Assemblages and Its Relationship to Water Use in Kulekhani Multipurpose Reservoir, Nepal

Spatial and temporal variation in planktons and water quality parameters were investigated in order to determine the effects of seasonal water use on reservoir water quality and planktons’ diversity in Kulekhani Multipurpose Reservoir, Nepal. This study also focuses on interactions among various water quality parameters with planktons and how such interactions can affect the second major utility, the fish farming in the reservoir. The analyses of seasonal water samples collected from three different sampling locations in the reservoir showed that select water quality parameters varied significantly (P < 0.05) with sampling seasons (transparency: 30 – 250 cm, pH: 7 – 7.5, alkalinity: 30 – 120 mg/L, DO: 6 – 11.5 mg/L, CO2: 0.1 – 1.1 mg/L) and sampling locations (phosphate: 0.1 – 0.25 mg/L, nitrate 0.01 – 0.19 mg/L) in the reservoir. Three groups of zooplankton and four classes of phytoplankton, respectively with eleven and twelve genera, were identified and quantified in the reservoir. Among them, Cyclops, Asplanchana, and Keratella were most dominant zooplanktons while Synedra, Melosira and Peridinum were the most dominant phytoplankton in the reservoir water. The abundance of select zooplanktons (Cyclops, Keratella, Polyanthra), and phytoplankton (Navicula, Melosira, Amphora, Chroococcus, Staurastrum, Scendesmus) showed significant interaction between sampling sites and sampling seasons, while the other varied only with sampling seasons and/or sites. These results showed that seasonal water level fluctuations, along with the variation of water quality parameters, change the abundance and diversity of planktons’ in the reservoir. Such changes can negatively impact the fish in cage culture, affecting the livelihood of people extensively relying on these fish farming.

Full article at: http://www.scirp.org/Journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=79722

Seaside Sparrows reveal contrasting food web responses to large-scale stressors in coastal Louisiana saltmarshes

Authors: Jill A. Olin, Christine M. Bergeon Burns, Stefan Woltmann, Sabrina S. Taylor, Philip C. Stouffer, Wokil Bam, Linda Hopper-Bui and R. Eugene Turner.

Abstract. Large-scale ecosystem disturbances can alter the flow of energy through food webs, but such processes are not well defined for Gulf of Mexico saltmarsh ecosystems vulnerable to multiple interacting stressors. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill significantly affected the composition of terrestrial saltmarsh communities in Louisiana, and thus had the potential to alter energy pathways through terrestrial and aquatic food webs, with direct consequences for higher trophic-level species restricted to these habitats. The Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus) is endemic to saltmarshes and relies completely on the habitat and resources they provide; thus, the sparrows can serve as indicators of ecological change in response to disturbances. We analyzed food web pathways for birds residing in oiled and unoiled saltmarshes for the four years following the oil spill by quantifying the bulk carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes and fatty acid profiles of liver tissues, in addition to primary producers (e.g., marsh grasses) and invertebrate consumers representing the major energy resources in these systems. The stable isotope values of primary producers and most invertebrate consumers did not differ between oiled and unoiled sites, suggesting that the energy pathways within the food web were stable in spite of observed declines in these populations following the spill. The tracer profiles of the Seaside Sparrows confirmed that there was a nominal effect of oil on resource use or trophic position (TP). However, we detected significant interannual variation in resource use by these birds; the sparrows occupied a lower TP and exhibited greater assimilation of resources derived from benthic–aquatic relative to terrestrial pathways in 2013 compared to other years. This distinction is likely attributable to the effects of Hurricane Isaac in 2012, whose significant storm surge extensively inundated the saltmarsh landscape. Despite widespread concern for the saltmarsh ecosystem after the DWH event, the significant effects noted at the population level translated into only subtle differences to the flow of energy through this food web. These results demonstrate varying responses to different degrees of landscape-level disturbance, such as oil and hurricanes, and establish the need to better understand food web dynamics in these saltmarsh ecosystems.

Full Article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.1878/pdf

Thank you.

Wokil Bam