Five months after the oil spillage from the Braer tanker a limited survey of the meiofaunal copepod assemblage was carried out to the west of the south Shetland peninsula, where sediment oil content ranged from 19 to 8816 ppm. There was no evidence for any impact of oil on species diversity. Copepod abundance and species composition did show correlations with oil content but this was explicable in terms of the influence of sediment type, which was also related to oil content in the area. A strong correlation between the relative abundance of ectinosomatid copepods and oil content appeared unlikely to be due to the influence of natural factors. It is suggested that ectinosomatids may be highly sensisitive to oiled sediments. Further evidence for enhanced susceptibility to oil was manifest in the finding of ectinosomatids coated in oil droplets, suggesting the possession of a lipophilic cuticle. It is proposed that under certain conditions the relative abundance of ectinosomatids may provide a rapid tool for monitoring the impact of oil on benthic communities, if this putative sensitivity is confirmed by further studies.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Cahiers de Biologie Marine|
|Publication status||Published - 1997|