Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 20, pp 15285–15293

Functional response of an adapted subtidal macrobenthic community to an oil spill: macrobenthic structure and bioturbation activity over time throughout an 18-month field experiment

DECAPAGE Project: Hydrocarbon degradation in coastal sediments*

DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-3906-4

Cite this article as:
Gilbert, F., Stora, G. & Cuny, P. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2015) 22: 15285. doi:10.1007/s11356-014-3906-4


An experimental oil spill was carried out in order to assess in situ responses of a macrobenthic community of shallow subtidal sediments historically exposed to petroleum contamination. Both structural and functional (bioturbation activity) parameters of the community, subjected or not to a pulse acute contamination (25,000 ppm), were studied for 18 months. No difference in the community structure was detected between contaminated and control sediments, from 6 to 18 months of experimentation. Vertical distributions of organisms, however, were affected by the presence of oil contamination leading to a deeper burial of some polychaete species. In the same time, changes in sediment-reworking activity and more especially a deeper particle burying in sediments subjected to acute oil contamination were shown. These results highlight the need to complete the analysis of community structure by assessing functional aspects, such as bioturbation activity, a process integrating various aspects of benthic behaviour (e.g. feeding, locomotion, burrow building) in order to estimate real (structural and functional) and long-term effects of oil contamination on benthic communities.


Subtidal shallow sediments Field experiment Acute oil contamination Macrobenthic community Bioturbation Sediment reworking 

Supplementary material

11356_2014_3906_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (32 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 32 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INP, UPS, EcoLab (Laboratoire écologie fonctionnelle et environnement)Université de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, EcoLabToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Aix-Marseille Université, CNRSUniversité de Toulon, IRD, MIO (Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography) UM 110MarseilleFrance

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