Acute oil exposure reduces physiological process rates in Arctic phyto- and zooplankton
Arctic shipping and oil exploration are expected to increase, as sea ice extent is reduced. This enhances the risk for accidental oil spills throughout the Arctic, which emphasises the need to quantify potential consequences to the marine ecosystem and to evaluate risk and choose appropriate remediation methods. This study investigated the sensitivity of Arctic marine plankton to the water accommodated fraction (WAF) of heavy fuel oil. Arctic marine phytoplankton and copepods (Calanus finmarchicus) were exposed to three WAF concentrations corresponding to total hydrocarbon contents of 0.07 mg l−1, 0.28 mg l−1 and 0.55 mg l−1. Additionally, the potential phototoxic effects of exposing the WAF to sunlight, including the UV spectrum, were tested. The study determined sub-lethal effects of WAF exposure on rates of key ecosystem processes: primary production of phytoplankton and grazing (faecal pellet production) of copepods. Both phytoplankton and copepods responded negatively to WAF exposure. Biomass specific primary production was reduced by 6, 52 and 73% and faecal pellet production by 18, 51 and 86% with increasing WAF concentrations compared to controls. The phototoxic effect reduced primary production in the two highest WAF concentration treatments by 71 and 91%, respectively. This experiment contributes to the limited knowledge of acute sub-lethal effects of potential oil spills to the Arctic pelagic food web.
KeywordsArctic WAF Oil spill Calanus finmarchicus Phytoplankton Phototoxicity
The authors want to thank the crew of R/V Dana for help during field sampling. Sampling was carried out as part of the “North East Greenland Environmental Study Program” initiated by the Greenland Government. JT gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond) during the writing of this paper (Individual Post-doctoral Grant no. 7027-00060B). J.M.H was supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 752325.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Ardyna M, Babin M, Gosselin M et al. (2013) Parameterization of vertical chlorophyll a in the Arctic Ocean: Impact of the subsurface chlorophyll maximum on regional, seasonal, and annual primary production estimates. Biogeosciences 10:4383 4404. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-10-4383-2013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Brussaard CPD, Peperzak L, Beggah S et al. (2016) Immediate ecotoxicological effects of short-lived oil spills on marine biota. Nat Commun 7: https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms11206
- Eguíluz VM, Fernández-Gracia J, Irigoien X, Duarte CM (2016) A quantitative assessment of Arctic shipping in 2010—2014. Sci Rep 6: https://doi.org/10.1038/srep30682
- Fritt-Rasmussen J, Wegeberg S, Gustavson K et al. (2018) Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) A review of fate and behaviour of HFO spills in cold seawater, including biodegradation, environmental effects and oil spill response. The Nordic Council of Ministers, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
- Hansen BH, Tarrant AM, Salaberria I et al. (2017) Maternal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) transfer and effects on offspring of copepods exposed to dispersed oil with and without oil droplets. J Toxicol Environ Heal Part A 80:881 894. https://doi.org/10.1080/15287394.2017.1352190 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hansen BH, Altin D, Rørvik SF et al. (2011) Comparative study on acute effects of water accommodated fractions of an artificially weathered crude oil on Calanus finmarchicus and Calanus glacialis (Crustacea: Copepoda). Sci Total Environ 409:704 709. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.10.035 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hansen HP, Koroleff F (1999) Determination of nutrients. In: Grasshoff K, Kremling K, Ehrhardt M (eds) Methods of seawater analysis, 3rd edn. Wiley-VCHGoogle Scholar
- IPCC (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
- Jespersen AM, Christoffersen K (1987) Measurements of chlorophyll-a from phytoplankton using ethanol as extraction solvent. Arch Hydrobiol 109:445 454Google Scholar
- Nahrgang J, Dubourg P, Frantzen M et al. (2016) Early life stages of an arctic keystone species (Boreogadus saida) show high sensitivity to a water-soluble fraction of crude oil. Environ Pollut 218: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2016.07.044
- Peck M (1992) Introduction to Linear Regression Analysis, 2nd edn. Wiley-Interscience, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
- R Core Team (2015) R: A language and environment for statistical computingGoogle Scholar
- Santander-Avanceña SS, Sadaba RB, Taberna HS et al. (2016) Acute Toxicity of Water-Accommodated Fraction and Chemically Enhanced WAF of Bunker C Oil and Dispersant to a Microalga Tetraselmis tetrathele. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 96:31 35. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-015-1696-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar