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Mar Pollut Bull. 2013 Aug 15;73(1):291-9. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.05.006. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Effects of an oil spill on benthic community production and respiration on subtropical intertidal sandflats.

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Endemic Species Research Institute, Jiji, Nantou 552, Taiwan.


This study determined effects of an oil spill on subtropical benthic community production and respiration by monitoring CO2 fluxes in benthic chambers on intertidal sandflats during emersion before and after an accidental spill. The oil spill decreased sediment chlorophyll a concentrations, altered benthic macrofaunal community, and affected ecological functioning by suppressing or even stopping microalgal production, increasing bacterial respiration, and causing a shift from an autotrophic system to a heterotrophic system. Effects of the oil spill on the macrofauna were more severe than on benthic microalgae, and affected sedentary infauna more than motile epifauna. Despite the oil spill's impact on the benthic community and carbon metabolism, the affected area appeared to return to normal in about 23 days. Our results suggest that the prompt response of benthic metabolism to exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons can serve as a useful indicator of the impact of an oil spill.


Benthic macrofaunal community; Community respiration; Gross community production; Net community production; Taiwan

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