Impact assessment in communities and species of commercial and ecological interest in coastal areas. Spring season.
Celia Besteiro Rodríguez (USC)
This project evaluates the impact of the Prestige oil spill using two complementary approaches: assessment of the initial impact in the communities of the coastal ecosystems during the spring, and the toxicological assessment of the spill using biomarkers in sentinel species.
The impact assessment will be carried out using comparisons with the status prior to the spill and comparing control and impacted sites. The Galician coast has been divided in 7 regions where 8 sites will be sampled, one in each sector, except the regions more impacted where two sites will be sampled. One sampling will be made in each site along the spring 2003.
The study of the impact in the coastal communities will be focused in the vegetation and sessile and sedentary macrofauna in the adlitoral terrestrial, intertidal and subtidal marine environments. Also, suspended particulate matter in the water column will be analyzed in the coastal margin, specially the hydrocarbon levels, to evaluate their role in the entry of contaminants in the benthic food web. The impact of the oil spill on the populations of goose barnacle, sea urchin and mussel seed, sedentary commercial resources with a high level of impact, will be assessed. Complementarily, analyses of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons will be performed in organisms and sediments.
The following community and population descriptors will be used for the assessment of the impact: HAPs levels in different compartments of the ecosystems, diversity, distribution, abundance and biomass, recruitment, mortality, growth, alterations of vegetative development and viability in plants, and population parameters (especially reproductive parameters).
The toxicological assessment will include the collection of samples along the Atlantic coast and Biscay Bay, and the pre-processing and conservation of tissue samples of sentinel mussels (and, in some cases, oysters, clams and limpets). These samples should be key for the implementation of biomonitoring networks (of the type Mussel Watch) of the toxic impact of the fuel and the products of its degradation. Molecular, cellular and tissue biomarkers, indicators of exposure to hydrocarbons and their biological effects, will be used.