The effects of oil spill and clean-up on dominant US Gulf coast marsh macrophytes: a review
S. R. Pezeshki, , a, M. W. Hesterb, Q. Linc and J. A. Nymand
a Department of Biology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA
b Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA 70402, USA
c Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
d Department of Biology, University of Southwestern Louisiana, PO Box 42451, Lafayette, LA 70504, USA
Received 6 March 1999;
accepted 25 August 1999.
Available online 21 February 2000.
The objective of this review was to synthesize existing information regarding the effects of petroleum hydrocarbons on marsh macrophytes in a manner that will help guide research and improve spill-response efficiency. Petroleum hydrocarbons affect plants chemically and physically. Although plants sometime survive fouling by producing new leaves, even relatively non-toxic oils can stress or kill plants if oil physically prevents plant gas-exchange. Plant sensitivity to fouling varies among species and among populations within a species, age of the plant, and season of spill. Physical disturbance and compaction of vegetation and soil associated with clean-up activities following an oil spill appear to have detrimental effects on the US Gulf coast marshes. Other techniques, including the use of chemicals such as cleaners or bioremediation, may be necessary to address the problem. Clean-up may also be beneficial when timely removal prevents oil from migrating to more sensitive habitats.
“Capsule”: This review should be useful in guiding future research to improve oil spill response efficiency.