The occurrence, as well as the environmental fate and impact, of vegetable oil spills in freshwater wetlands have until now been unreported. Thus, the largest global vegetable oil spillage in a freshwater wetland, which occurred at the Con Joubert Bird Sanctuary wetland in 2007, presented an ideal opportunity to evaluate these impacts. Five post-spill sampling sites were selected within the wetland from which a variety of abiotic and biotic samples were collected bi-monthly over a period of 12 months. Abiotic variables included the sediment and water column oil concentrations, total nitrogen, total phosphorous, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), silica, chlorophyll a, as well as in situ measurements of pH, electrical conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. Aquatic macroinvertebrates were chosen as biotic indicators in the study field due to their wide applicability as water quality indicators and were thus collected at each site. Spatial and temporal changes in total nitrogen, total phosphorous, and chlorophyll a concentrations as well as changes in pH were observed. The oil spillage also resulted in an increase in tolerant macroinvertebrate taxa, mainly Chironomidae and Psychodidae, at the sites closest to the source of the spillage. These two taxa, and to a lesser extent, Syrphidae, were identified as potentially useful indicators to determine the extent of vegetable oil contamination within a freshwater wetland. Furthermore, monitoring of these indicator taxa can be a useful management tool to determine the recovery of freshwater wetlands after vegetable oil spills. In the study, a static battery of bioassays of different biotic trophic levels was also employed to determine the adverse effects of the spilled vegetable oil on the biotic environment. It was evident from the result of the static battery of bioassay that adverse effects of the sunflower oil differ between trophic levels. The latter was in relationship with the data obtained from the field macroinvertebrate study, indicating that certain macroinvertebrate families were more tolerant to the adverse effects of sunflower oil than other families.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
APHA, AWWA & WPCF. (1992). Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater (19th ed.). Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association and Water Pollution Control Federation.
Arimoro, F. O., Ikomi, R. B., & Iwegbue, C. M. A. (2007). Water quality changes in relation to Diptera community patterns and diversity measured at an organic effluent impacted stream in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Ecological Indicators, 7, 541–552.
Assmuth, T., & Penttilä, S. (1995). Characteristics, determinants and interpretations of acute lethality in Daphnids exposed to complex waste leachates. Aquatic Toxicology, 31, 125–141.
Astin, L. A. (2006). Data synthesis and bioindicator development for non-tidal streams in the interstate Potomac River basin, USA. Ecological Indicators, 6, 664–685.
Barkay, T., Liebert, C., & Gillman, M. (1989). Environmental significance of the potential for mer(Tn21)-mediated reduction of Hg2+ to Hg0 in natural waters. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 55, 1196–2002.
Baryla, A., Carrier, P., Franck, F., Coulomb, C., Sahut, C., & Havaux, M. (2001). Leaf chlorosis in oilseed rape plants (Brassica napus) grown on cadmium-polluted soil: causes and consequences for photosynthesis and growth. Planta, 212, 696–709.
Baun, A., Jensen, S. D., Bjerg, P. L., Christensen, T. H., & Nyholm, N. (2000). Toxicity of organic chemical pollution in groundwater downgradient of a landfill (Grindsted, Denmark). Environmental Science and Technology, 34, 1647–1652.
Blaise, C., Gagné, F., Chévre, N., Harwood, M., Lee, K., Lappalainen, J., et al. (2004). Toxicity assessment of oil-contaminated freshwater sediments. Environmental Toxicology, 19, 267–273.
Bury, R. B. (1972). The effects of diesel fuel on a stream fauna. California Fish and Game, 58, 291–295.
Cairns, J., McCormick, P. V., & Niederlehner, B. R. (1993). A proposed framework for developing indicators of ecosystem health. Hydrobiologia, 263, 1–44.
Calanog, S. A., Chen, J. Y., & Toia, R. F. (1999). Preliminary evaluation of potential impacts of non-petroleum oils on the aquatic environments. Proceedings of the 1999 International Oil Spill Conference. Washington, DC: American Petroleum Institute.
Camargo, J. A., Alonso, A., & De La Puente, M. (2004). Multimetric assessment of nutrient enrichment in impounded rivers based on benthic macroinvertebrates. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 96, 1–3.
Cherrington, C. A., Hinton, M., Mead, G. C., & Chopra, I. (1991). Organic acids: chemistry, antibacterial activity and practical applications. Advances in Microbial Physiology, 32, 87–108.
Chutter, F. M. (1998). Research on the rapid biological assessment of water quality: Impacts in streams and rivers. WRC Report No. 422/1/98. Pretoria: Water Research Commission.
Clarke, K. R., & Gorley, R. N. (2006). Primer v6: User manual or tutorial. Plymouth: PRIMER-E.
Clements, W. H. (1994). Benthic invertebrate community responses to heavy metals in the upper Arkansas River basin, Colorado. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 13, 30–44.
Clément, B., Devaux, A., Perrodin, Y., Danjean, M., & Ghidini-Fatus, M. (2004). Assessment of sediment ecotoxicity and genotoxicity in freshwater laboratory microcosms. Ecotoxicology, 12, 323–333.
Collier, K. J. (1995). Environmental factors affecting the taxonomic composition of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities in lowland waterways of Northland, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 4, 453–465.
Cornish, A., Battersby, N. S., & Watkinson, R. J. (1993). Environmental fate of mineral, vegetable and transesterified vegetable oils. Pesticide Science, 37, 173–178.
Cranston, P. S. (1995). Introduction. In P. D. Armitage, P. S. Cranston, & L. C. V. Pinder (Eds.), The Chironomidae: Biology and ecology of non-biting midges. London: Chapman and Hall.
Crump-Wiesner, H. J., & Jennings, A. L. (1975). Properties and effects of nonpetroleum oils. Proceedings of 1975 Conference on Prevention and Control of Pollution. Washington, DC: American Petroleum Institute.
Dallas, H. F., & Day, J. A. (1993). The effect of water quality variables on riverine ecosystems: A review. WRC report no. TT 61/93. Pretoria: Water Research Commission.
De Klerk, A. R., & Wepener, V. (2011). The influence of biotope and sampling method on the assessment of the invertebrate community structure in endorheic reed pans in South Africa. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 36, 67–74.
De la Rey, P. A., Taylor, J. C., Laas, A., Van Rensburg, L., & Vosloo, A. (2004). Determining the possible application value of diatoms as indicators of general water quality: a comparison with SASS 5. Water SA, 30, 325–332.
Dickens, C. W. S., & Graham, P. M. (2002). The South African Scoring System (SASS) version 5: rapid bioassessment method for rivers. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 27, 1–10.
DWAF. (1996). South African water quality guidelines. Volume 7: Aquatic ecosystems (1st ed.). Pretoria: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
Fabregas, J., Herrero, C., & Veiga, M. (1984). Effect of oil and dispersant on growth and chlorophyll a content of the marine microalga Tetraselmis suecica. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 47, 445–447.
French-McCay, D. P. (2002). Development and application of an oil toxicity and exposure model, OilToxEx. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 21, 2080–2094.
Frink, L. (1994). Statement on regulatory standards for the transportation of edible oil. Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, 30.
Gesteira, G. J. L., Dauvin, J. C., & Fraga, M. S. (2003). Taxonomic level for assessing oil spill effects on soft-bottom sublittoral benthic communities. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46, 562–572.
Greer, C. W., Fortin, N., Roy, R., Whyte, L. G., & Lee, K. (2001). Microbial population dynamics and degradation activity in response to a controlled oil spill on a freshwater wetland. Bioremediation Journal, 6, 2002.
Hauer, F. R., & Lamberti, G. A. (2006). Methods in stream ecology (pp. 1–877). California, USA: Academic, San Diego.
Idyll, C. P. (1943). Bottom fauna of portions of the Cawichan River, B.C. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 6, 133–139.
James, A. (1979). The value of biological indicators in relation to other parameters of water quality. In A. James & L. Evison (Eds.), Biological indicators of water quality. Chichester: Wiley-Interscience.
Kato, H., et al. (2006). High degree of conservancy among secreted salivary gland proteins from two geographically distant Phlebotomus duboscqi sand flies populations (Mali and Kenya). B.M.C. Genomics, 7, 226.
Leland, H. V., Fend, S. V., Dudley, T. L., & Carter, J. L. (1989). Effects of copper on species composition of benthic insects in a Sierra Nevada, California, stream. Freshwater Biology, 21, 163–179.
Li, Z., Lee, K., & Cobanli, S. E. (2007). Assessment of sediment toxicity during anaerobic biodegradation of vegetable oil using Microtox and Hyalella azteca bioassays. Environmental Toxicology, 22, 1–8.
Li, Z., Wincele, D. E., & Wrenn, B. A. (2001). Anaerobic biodegradation of vegetable oil spills. Proceedings of the International Oil Spill Conference. Washington, DC: American Petroleum Institute.
Li, Z., & Wrenn, B. A. (2004). Effects of ferric hydroxide on the anaerobic biodegradation kinetics and toxicity of vegetable oil in freshwater sediments. Water Research, 38, 3859–3868.
Li, Z., Wrenn, B. A., & Venosa, A. D. (2005). Anaerobic biodegradation of vegetable oil and its metabolic intermediates in oil-enriched freshwater sediments. Biodegradation, 16, 341–352.
Lytle, D. A., & Peckarsky, B. A. (2001). Spatial and temporal impacts of a fuel spill on stream invertebrates. Freshwater Biology, 46, 693–704.
Margalef, R. (1951). Diversidad de species en las comunidades natuales. Publicaciones del Instituto de Biologia Aplicada, 6, 59–72.
Marques, M. M., & Barbosa, F. (2001). Biological quality of waters from an impacted tropical watershed (middle Rio Doce basin, southeast Brazil), using benthic macroinvertebrate communities as an indicator. Hydrobiologia, 457, 69–76.
Martinez, E. A., Moore, B. C., Schaumloffel, J., & Dasgupta, N. (2004). Teratogenic versus mutagenic abnormalities in chironomid larvae exposed to zinc and lead. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 47, 193–198.
Marziali, L., Lencioni, V., & Rossaro, B. (2006). Chironomid species as indicators of freshwater habitat quality. Internationale Vereinigung fuer Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie Verhandlungen, 29, 1553–1555.
Masojídek, J., Souček, P., Máchová, J., Frolík, J., Klem, J., & Malý, J. (2011). Detection of photosynthetic herbicides: algal growth inhibition test vs. electrochemical photosystem Π biosensor. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 74, 117–122.
Mason, R. P., Morel, F. M. M., & Hemond, H. F. (1995). The role of microorganisms in elemental mercury formation in natural water. Environmental Science and Technology, 80, 775–787.
Merritt, R. W., & Cummins, K. W. (1996). An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America (3rd ed.). Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, Dubuque.
Mousavi, S. K., Primicerio, R., & Amundsen, P.-A. (2003). Diversity and structure of Chironomidae (Diptera) communities along a gradient of heavy metal contamination in a subarctic watercourse. Science of the Total Environment, 307, 93–110.
MPCA. (2008). Macroinvertebrate community sampling protocol for depressional wetland monitoring sites. Biological monitoring program. Standard operating procedures. Minnesota: Minnesota Pollution and Control Agency.
Mudge, S. M. (1995). Deleterious effects from accidental spillage of vegetable oils. Spill Science and Technology Bulletin, 2, 187–191.
Mudge, S. M. (1997). Can vegetable oils outlast minerals oils in the marine environment? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 34, 213.
Mudge, S. M., Salgado, M., & East, J. (1993). Preliminary investigations into sunflower oil contamination following the wreck of the M.V. Kimya. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 26, 40–44.
Musee, N., Oberholster, P. J., Sikhwivhilu, L., & Botha, A.-M. (2010). The effects of engineered nanoparticles on survival, reproduction, and behaviour of freshwater snail, Physa acuta (Draparnaud, 1805). Chemosphere, 81, 1196–1203.
Nazarova, L. B., Pestryakova, L. A., Ushnitskaya, L. A., & Hubberten, H.-W. (2008). Chironomids (Diptera: Chironomidae) in lakes of central Yakutia and their indicative potential for paleoclimatic research. Contemporary Problems of Ecology, 1, 335–345.
Norris, R. H., Lake, P., & Swain, R. (1982). Ecological effects of mine effluents on the South Esk River, Tasmania: benthic invertebrates. Australian Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 33, 789–809.
Oberholster, P. J., Blaise, C., & Botha, A.-M. (2010). Phytobenthos and phytoplankton community changes upon exposure to a sunflower oil spill in a South African protected freshwater wetland. Ecotoxicology, 19, 1426–1439.
Oberholster, P. J., Botha, A.-M., & Ashton, P. J. (2009). Appearance of new taxa: invertebrates, phytoplankton and bacteria in an alkaline, saline, meteorite crater lake, South Africa. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 174, 271–282.
Oberholster, P. J., Botha, A.-M., & Cloete, T. E. (2005). Using a battery of bioassays, benthic phytoplankton and the AUSRIVAS method to monitor long-term coal tar contaminated sediment in the Cachela Poudre River, Colorado. Water Research, 39, 4913–4924.
Ocon, C. S., Capítulo, A. R., & Paggi, A. C. (2008). Evaluation of zoobenthic assemblages and recovery following petroleum spill in a coastal area of Río de la Plata estuarine system, South America. Environmental Pollution, 156, 82–89.
O'Connel, T. R., & Campbell, R. S. (1953). The benthos of Black River and Clearwater Lake, Missouri. University of Missouri Studies, 26, 25–41.
Oliveira, B. M., & Keller, K. (2001). Addressing the challenges of freshwater spills. International Oil Spill Conference Proceedings, 1, 267–270.
Porra, R. J., Thompson, W. A., & Kriedemann, P. E. (1989). Determination of accurate extinction coefficient and simultaneous equations for assaying chlorophyll a and b extracted with four different solvents: verification of the concentration of chlorophyll standards by atomic absorption spectrometry. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 975, 384–394.
Poulton, B. C., Finger, S. E., & Humphry, S. A. (1997). Effects of a crude oil on the benthic invertebrate community in the Gasconade River, Missouri. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 33, 268–276.
Rainio, J., & Niemela, J. (2003). Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) as bioindicators. Biodiversity and Conservation, 12, 487–506.
Ravichandran, M. (2004). Interactions between mercury and dissolved organic matter—a review. Chemosphere, 55, 319–331.
Rigger, D. (1997). Edible oils: are they really that different? Proceedings of the International Oil Spill Conference. Washington DC: American Petroleum Institute.
Rosenberg, D. M. (1992). Freshwater biomonitoring and Chironomidae. Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology, 26, 101–122.
Shannon, C. E. (1948). A mathematical theory of communication. The Bell System Technical Journal, 26(379–423), 623–656.
Slabbert, L. (2004). Methods for direct estimation of ecological effect potential (DEEEP) (pp. 1–100). WRC Pretoria, South Africa: Water Research Commission report 1313/01/04.
Takahashi, M. A., Higuti, J., Bagatini, Y. M., Zviejkovski, I. P., & Velho, L. F. M. (2008). Composition and biomass of larval chironomid (Insecta, Diptera) as potential indicator of trophic conditions in southern Brazil reservoirs. Acta Limnologica Brasiliensia, 20, 5–13.
Ten Brink, B. J. E., & Woudstra, J. H. (1991). Towards an effective and rational water management: the aquatic outlook project—integrating water management, monitoring and research. European Water Pollution Control, 1, 20–27.
Thorp, J. H., & Covich, A. P. (2001). Ecology and classification of North American freshwater invertebrates (2nd ed., pp. 1–867). San Diego: Academic.
Tripole, S., Conzalez, P., Vallania, A., Garbagnati, M., & Mallea, M. (2006). Evaluation of impact of acid mine drainage on the chestry and the macrobenthos in the Carolina stream (San Luis-Argentina). Environitoring Monitoring Assessment, 114, 377–389.
USDOC & NOAA. (1996). Injury assessment: Guidance document for natural resources damage assessment under the oil pollution act of 1990. Damage assessment and restoration program. Maryland: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
USEPA. (1997). Oil pollution prevention; non-transportation related onshore facilities. Federal Register. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 62, 54508–54543.
Van Dam, R. A., Camilleri, C., & Finlayson, C. M. (1998). The potential of rapid assessment techniques as early warning indicators of wetland degradation: a review. Environmental Toxicology and Water Quality, 13, 297–312.
Vujević, M., Vidaković-Cifrek, Z., Tomić, M., & Regula, I. (2000). Calcium chloride and calcium bromide aqueous solutions of technical and analytical grade in Lemna bioassay. Chemosphere, 41, 1535–1542.
Warwick, R. M., & Clarke, K. R. (1993). Comparing the severity of disturbance: a meta-analysis of marine macrobenthic community data. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 92, 221–231.
Watanabe, N. C., Harada, S., & Komai, Y. (2000). Long-term recovery from mine drainage disturbance of a macroinvertebrate community in the Ichi-kawa River, Japan. Hydrobiologia, 429, 171–180.
Wincele, D. E., Wrenn, B. A., & Venosa, A. D. (2004). Sedimentation of oil mineral aggregates for remediation of vegetable oil spills. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 130, 50–58.
Wright, J. F. (1995). Development and use of a system for predicting the macro-invertebrate fauna in flowing waters. Australian Journal of Ecology, 20, 181–197.
Wu, J., Fu, C., Liang, Y., & Chen, J. (2004). Distribution of the meiofaunal community in a eutrophic shallow lake of China. Archives of Hydrobiology, 159, 555–575.
Yoshimura, C., Tockner, K., Omura, T., & Moog, O. (2006). Species diversity and functional assessment of macroinvertebrate communities in Austrian rivers. Limnology, 7, 63–74.
Zoun, P. E. F., Baars, A. J., & Boshuizen, R. S. (1991). A case of seabird mortality in the Netherlands caused by spillage of nonylphenol and vegetable oils, winter 1988/1989. Sula, 5, 101–103.
The authors would like to thank the National Research Foundation and the University of Pretoria for their financial support.
About this article
Cite this article
Selala, M.C., Botha, AM., de Klerk, A.R. et al. Effects of Vegetable Oil Pollution on Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Assemblage in a Freshwater Wetland and Its Use as a Remediation Tool. Water Air Soil Pollut 224, 1650 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-013-1650-x
- Freshwater wetland
- Sunflower oil spill
- Static battery of bioassays