Oil and Coral

Assistant professor of biology Walter Cho recently returned from St. Petersburg, FL, where he was a participant in the  Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Principal Investigator One Year Update Workshop, sponsored by the National Science and Technology Council’s Sub-Committee on Ocean Science and Technology. Along with his colleague Timothy Shank from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Walter presented his research on the effects of the oil spill on coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. The abstract of the presentation is below:

“Deep-water coral communities are thought to be vulnerable to disturbance due to their low rates of colonization, growth, and the high levels of host-specificity for associated invertebrates. A major concern resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the vulnerability of these deep-water coral communities to the oil spill. Research cruises in 2008 and 2009 established a comparative baseline for changes in benthic community structure. Research cruises in 2010 and 2011 returned to some of the sites visited prior to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and also explored new areas that may host deep-water coral communities. We assessed the potential impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on coral-associated invertebrates (including ophiuroids, crabs, shrimp, barnacles) and the level of genetic connectivity between populations in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic.”

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