Effects of Dispersant and Oil on Survival and Swimming Activity in a Marine Copepod

  • Jonathan H. Cohen
  • Lillian R. McCormick
  • Stephanie M. Burkhardt


Knowledge of lethal and sublethal effects of crude oil and dispersants on mesozooplankton are important to understanding ecosystem impacts of oil spills in marine environments. Here we (1) establish median lethal concentrations for water accommodated fractions of Corexit EC9500A dispersant, MC-252 crude oil (WAF), and dispersed crude oil (CEWAF) for the coastal copepod Labidocera aestiva, and (2) assess acute effects on L. aestiva swimming activity. Mortality assays with L. aestiva support that copepods are more sensitive than other zooplankton taxa to dispersant toxicity, while WAF and CEWAF are generally similar in their toxicity to this copepod species and other zooplankton. Acute effects on L. aestiva activity included impaired swimming upon WAF and CEWAF exposure. These results highlight that copepods are particularly sensitive to dispersant exposure, with acute effects on survival most evident with dispersant alone, and on swimming behavior when dispersant is mixed with crude oil.


Corexit EC9500A Water accommodated fraction Chemically-enhanced water accommodated fraction Labidocera aestiva 



This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative through the Florida Institute of Oceanography. Dr. Dana Wetzel conducted the TPH and PAH analyses. Corexit EC9500A dispersant and MC-252 crude oil were provided by Nalco and the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan H. Cohen
    • 1
  • Lillian R. McCormick
    • 1
  • Stephanie M. Burkhardt
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Marine Science and Policy, College of Earth, Ocean and EnvironmentUniversity of DelawareLewesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine ScienceEckerd CollegeSt. PetersburgUSA

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