Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-lix
  2. C. Herb Ward, John W. Tunnell Jr.
    Pages 1-54 Open Access
  3. Mahlon C. Kennicutt II
    Pages 55-164 Open Access
  4. Richard A. Davis Jr.
    Pages 165-215 Open Access
  5. Mahlon C. Kennicutt II
    Pages 217-273 Open Access
  6. Mahlon C. Kennicutt II
    Pages 275-358 Open Access
  7. Irving A. Mendelssohn, Mark R. Byrnes, Ronald T. Kneib, Barry A. Vittor
    Pages 359-640 Open Access
  8. Gilbert T. Rowe
    Pages 641-767 Open Access
  9. John W. Tunnell Jr.
    Pages 769-839 Open Access
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 841-868

About this book


This book is open access under a CC BY-NC 2.5 license.

The Gulf of Mexico is an open and dynamic marine ecosystem rich in natural resources but heavily impacted by human activities, including agricultural, industrial, commercial and coastal development. Nutrients and pollutants from coastal communities and dozens of rivers flow into the Gulf, including material from the Mississippi River watershed, which drains over one third of continental United States. The Gulf of Mexico has been continuously exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons for millions of years from natural oil and gas seeps on the sea floor, and more recently from oil drilling and production activities located in the water near and far from shore. Major accidental oil spills in the Gulf are infrequent; two of the most significant include the Ixtoc I blowout in the Bay of Campeche in 1979 and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. Unfortunately, baseline assessments of the status of habitats and biota in the Gulf of Mexico before these spills either were not available, or the data had not been systematically compiled in a way that would help scientists assess the potential short-term and long-term effects of such events.

This 2-volume series compiles and summarizes thousands of data sets showing the status of habitats and biota in the Gulf of Mexico before the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that began on April 20, 2010. Volume 1 begins with an overview of the following 13 chapters and focuses on the big picture rather than the details of habitat quality and biota. 

Volume 1 covers:

• Water and sediment quality and contaminants, to provide perspective on environmental conditions in the Gulf.

• Natural oil and gas seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, to identify natural sources of exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons.

• Coastal habitats, including flora and fauna and coastal geology.

• Offshore benthos and plankton, with an analysis of current knowledge on energy capture and energy flows in the Gulf.

• Shellfish and finfish resources that provide the basis for commercial and recreational fisheries.

Volume 2


• Historical data on commercial and recreational fisheries, with an analysis of marketing trends and drivers.

• Ecology, populations and risks to birds, sea turtles and marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.

• A final chapter extensively illustrated with original images on diseases and mortalities of fish and other animals that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico. 

Chapters in these volumes have been peer reviewed by scientific experts in the subject areas covered.  Hopefully, the collection and analysis of such data for the Gulf of Mexico will be continued and sponsored by responsible federal and state agencies with the frequency needed to accurately assess potential damage to natural resources from ecologically harmful events that may occur in the future.


Gulf of Mexico Marine Habitats marine endangered species marine sediment and water quality marine wildlife oil seeps in Gulf of Mexico

Editors and affiliations

  • C. Herb Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringRice UniversityHoustonUSA

About the editors

C. Herb Ward is Professor Emeritus at Rice University. He held the A. J. Foyt Family Chair of Engineering and was Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the George R. Brown School of Engineering and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Weiss School of Natural Sciences. He is now a Scholar in Environmental Science and Technology Policy in the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. He received his BS (1955) in Biology and Agricultural Science from New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, his MS (1958) and PhD (1960) in Microbial Diseases, Physiology, and Genetics of Plants from Cornell University, and the MPH (1978) in Environmental Health from the University of Texas School of Public Health. He is a registered professional engineer in Texas and a Board-Certified Environmental Engineer by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. He was the founding Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the inaugural Director of the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute at Rice University. He also served as Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)-sponsored National Center for Ground Water Research and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored Advanced Applied (Environmental) Technology Development Facility. Dr. Ward was a member of the

USEPA Science Advisory Board and served as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the DoD Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP). He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and led the development of the journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB), and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Dr. Ward received the Pohland Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Bridging Environmental Research, Education, and Practice and the Brown and Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award for Environmental Remediation in 2006, the Water Environment Federation McKee Medal for Achievement in Groundwater Restoration in 2007, the SIMB Charles Thom Award for bioremediation research in 2011, and was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by New Mexico State University in 2013. He was a co-author of the 2011 AAM report, Microbes and Oil Spills.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Habitats and Biota of the Gulf of Mexico: Before the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
  • Book Subtitle Volume 1: Water Quality, Sediments, Sediment Contaminants, Oil and Gas Seeps, Coastal Habitats, Offshore Plankton and Benthos, and Shellfish
  • Editors C. Herb Ward
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and the Author(s) 2017
  • License CC BY-NC
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Earth and Environmental Science Earth and Environmental Science (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-4939-3445-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-4939-8053-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-4939-3447-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages LIX, 868
  • Number of Illustrations 32 b/w illustrations, 519 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Environmental Management
    Marine & Freshwater Sciences
  • Buy this book on publisher's site