|Title||Disturbance and recovery of salt marsh arthropod communities following BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Authors||McCall, BDL, Pennings, SC|
Oil spills represent a major environmental threat to coastal wetlands, which provide a variety of critical ecosystem services to humanity. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is a hub of oil and gas exploration activities that historically have impacted intertidal habitats such as salt marsh. Following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we sampled the terrestrial arthropod community and marine invertebrates found in stands of Spartina alterniflora, the most abundant plant in coastal salt marshes. Samplingoccurred in 2010 as oil was washing ashore and a year later in 2011. In 2010, intertidal crabs and terrestrial arthropods (insects and spiders) were suppressed by oil exposure even in seemingly unaffected stands of plants; however, Littorariasnails were unaffected. One year later, crab and arthropods had largely recovered. Our work is the first attempt that we know of assessing vulnerability of the salt marsh arthropod community to oil exposure, and it suggests that arthropods areboth quite vulnerable to oil exposure and quite resilient, able to recover from exposure within a year if host plants remain healthy.