Funding Source: Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative
Synopsis: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a disaster that impacted numerous lives, habitat, and economies along the northern Gulf Coast. As a a member of two Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) funded consortia (Coastal Waters Consortium and Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience), I investigated the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on various coastal flora and fauna. Specifically, I performed a series of manipulative experiments to determine how oil influences the growth, flowering, erosion, and herbivory of important habitat-forming species of vegetation such as Ruppia maritima.
I also conducted both field and lab assays to determine how crude oil, dispersants, and clean-up/remediation activities have affected the interactions between predators and prey, as well as the mechanisms used by organisms to avoid oil-contaminated areas. Additional collaborative research seeks to determine changes to beach and saltmarsh communities and how food webs are altered due to variable oil sensitivity. In the process, our research group has documenting many unrecognized life history strategies of marsh fishes, including growth, dispersal, and site fidelity. See the CWC’s Scientist Spotlight here.