Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in April 2010 released ~5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 1,773 km of shoreline was oiled along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, and ~60% of the oiling ended up on Louisiana salt marsh habitat. The objective of this dissertation was to examine the effects of DWH oil on predator-prey relationships between blue crabs and periwinkle snails, as well as mollusk and blue crab population structure. A broad spatial-temporal field study in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays was used to examine the legacy of oil on five species of mollusks and megalopal and juvenile blue crabs three to six years after the oil spill. Small scale laboratory experiments, mesocosms, and field tethering experiments were used to determine how oil may have altered organismal behavior and predator-prey interactions using juvenile crabs and periwinkle snails. The impacts of the oil spill three to six years later do not appear to have a negative impact on crab and mollusk population structures. The differences in populations appeared to be driven by greater environmental forces such as erosion, elevation, and sediment grain size content. Laboratory studies were not able to replicate oiled field conditions either during or 3 to 6 years after the oil spill, but suggest a temporary impact on blue crab and snail behavior.

Date

6-20-2018

Committee Chair

Rabalais, Nancy

Available for download on Wednesday, June 18, 2025

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