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Impact of Deepwater Horizon spill on food supply to deep-sea benthos communities
Prouty, N.G.; Campbell, P.L.; Mienis, F.; Duineveld, G.; Demopoulos, A.W.J.; Ross, S.W.; Brooke, S. (2016). Impact of Deepwater Horizon spill on food supply to deep-sea benthos communities. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 169: 248-264. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2015.11.008
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Deepwater Horizon spill; Deep-sea benthos; Sediment trap; Biomarkers; Gulf of Mexico; Gulf of Mexico; Biomass

Authors  Top 
  • Prouty, N.G.
  • Campbell, P.L.
  • Mienis, F., more
  • Duineveld, G., more
  • Demopoulos, A.W.J.
  • Ross, S.W.
  • Brooke, S.

Abstract
    Deep-sea ecosystems encompass unique and often fragile communities that are sensitive to a variety of anthropogenic and natural impacts. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, sampling efforts documented the acute impact of the spill on some deep-sea coral colonies. To investigate the impact of the DWH spill on quality and quantity of biomass delivered to the deep-sea, a suite of geochemical tracers (e.g., stable and radio-isotopes, lipid biomarkers, and compound-specific isotopes) was measured from monthly sediment trap samples deployed near a high-density deep-coral site in the Viosca Knoll area of the north–central Gulf of Mexico prior to (Oct-2008 to Sept-2009) and after the spill (Oct-10 to Sept-11). Marine (e.g., autochthonous) sources of organic matter (OM) dominated the sediment traps in both years, however after the spill, there was a pronounced reduction in marine-sourced OM, including a reduction in marine-sourced sterols and n-alkanes and a concomitant decrease in sediment trap organic carbon and pigment flux. Results from this study indicate a reduction in primary production and carbon export to the deep-sea in 2010–2011, at least 6–18 months after the spill started. Whereas satellite observations indicate an initial increase in phytoplankton biomass, results from this sediment trap study define a reduction in primary production and carbon export to the deep-sea community. In addition, a dilution from a low-14C carbon source (e.g., petro-carbon) was detected in the sediment trap samples after the spill, in conjunction with a change in the petrogenic composition. The data presented here fills a critical gap in our knowledge of biogeochemical processes and sub-acute impacts to the deep-sea that ensued after the 2010 DWH spill.

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