The effects of experimental oil-contaminated marine snow on meiofauna in a microcosm

Rohal, Melissa; Barrera, Noe; Eenennaam, Justine S. Van; Foekema, Edwin M.; Montagna, Paul A.; Murk, Albertinka J.; Pryor, Marissa; Romero, Isabel C.


During an oil spill, a marine oil snow sedimentation and flocculent accumulation (MOSSFA) event can transport oil residue to the seafloor. Microcosm experiments were used to test the effects of oil residues on meiofaunal
abundance and the nematode:copepod ratio under different oil concentrations and in the presence and absence of marine snow. Total meiofaunal abundance was 1.7 times higher in the presence of snow regardless of oil concentration. The nematode:copepod ratio was 13.9 times lower in the snow treatment regardless of the oil concentration. Copepod abundance was 24.3 times higher in marine snow treatments and 4.3 times higher at the highest oil concentration. Nematode abundance was 1.7 times lower at the highest oil concentration. The result of the experiment was an enrichment effect. The lack of a toxic response in the experiments may be attributable to relatively low oil concentrations, weathering processes, and the absence of chemically dispersed oil.