126 Harpacticoid copepods expand the scope and provide family-level indicators of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill deep-sea impacts

Baguley J.G., Rostami M.A., Baldrighi E., Bang H.W., Dyer L.A., Montagna P.A. (2024) Marine Pollution Bulletin, 202, art. no. 116343,  DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2024.116343

ABSTRACT: The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout and oil spill began on April 20, 2010 in the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) deep sea (1525 m). Previous studies documented an impacted area of deep-sea floor totaling 321 km2 and were based on taxonomy at the macrofauna family level and the meiofauna major taxonomic level. In the present study, finer taxonomic resolution of the meiofauna community was employed, specifically harpacticoid copepod family biodiversity. Severe or moderate impacts to harpacticoid family biodiversity were observed at 35 of 95 sampling stations, covering an estimated area of 2864 km2, 8.9 times greater impacted area than previously reported. Sensitive and tolerant harpacticoid families were observed in the impact zone. The present study greatly expands the understanding of DWH deep-sea impacts in 2010 and demonstrates that the harpacticoid family-level response is the most sensitive indicator (reported to date) of this oil spill pollution event.

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