thumbnail

Spilled oil and infaunal activity - Modification of burrowing behavior and redistribution of oil

Marine Environmental Research

By:
, , and
DOI: 10.1016/0141-1136(84)90026-6

Links

Abstract

A series of experiments in Willapa Bay, Washington, indicates the degree to which the presence of spilled oil modifies the burrowing behavior of infauna and the extent to which the animals redistribute oil into intertidal sediment. Small amounts of North Slope crude oil introduced at low tide directly into burrow openings (mostly made by the crustacean Callianassa) resulted in a limited and temporary reduction in the number of burrow openings. In contrast, a layer of oil-saturated sand 1 cm thick buried about 5 cm below the sediment surface sharply reduced the number of burrow openings. After a year, the few new burrows penetrated only the margins of the experimental plot, and bioturbation below the buried oil-saturated sand layer declined dramatically. The experiments suggest that small amounts of oil temporarily stranded by tides in themselves have no long-range effect on burrowing behavior. The fauna, however, are capable of introducing measurable amounts of oil into the subsurface, where it is retained long after the rest of the stranded oil had washed away. A buried layer of oil-saturated sand greatly reduces infaunal activity; the oil presents an effective barrier that can persist for years. The oil incorporated into the sediment from burrow openings showed evidence of degradation after 7 months. In contrast the layer of buried oil remained essentially undergraded after a period of two years, even though oil in lower concentrations above the layer was degraded after a period of one year. This variation in degree of degradation of the buried oil, as well as the heterogeneity of oil distribution wherever the oil has been incorporated from the surface, emphasises the importance of careful sampling in any attempt to locate or monitor the presence of spilled oil in the substrate.In a series of experiments in Willapa Bay, Washington, small amounts of North Slope crude oil introduced at low tide directly into burrow openings resulted in a limited and temporary reduction in the number of burrow openings. In contrast, a layer of oil-saturated sand 1 cm thick buried about 5 cm below the sediment surface sharply reduced the number of burrow openings. After a year, the few new burrows penetrated only the margins of the experimental plot, and bioturbation below the buried oil-saturated sand layer declined dramatically. The experiments suggest that small amounts of oil temporarily stranded by tides in themselves have no long-range effect on burrowing behavior. The oil incorporated into the sediment from burrow openings showed evidence of degradation after 17 months. In contrast, the layer of buried oil remained essentially undegraded after a period of two years. Refs.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Spilled oil and infaunal activity - Modification of burrowing behavior and redistribution of oil
Series title:
Marine Environmental Research
DOI:
10.1016/0141-1136(84)90026-6
Volume
11
Issue:
2
Year Published:
1984
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Marine Environmental Research
First page:
111
Last page:
136
Number of Pages:
26