Distribution of hydrocarbons in a salt marsh ecosystem after an oil spill and physiological changes in marsh animals from the polluted environment
Burns, Kathryn A.
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LocationBuzzards Bay, MA
West Falmouth, MA
The studies described in this thesis were designed to answer several problems relating to the recovery of a salt marsh heavily polluted by an accidental spill of Number 2 fuel oil. Field and laboratory studies were conducted for 5 years comparing the oiled Wild Harbor Marsh with the unoiled Sippewissett Marsh, both on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. The data contributes information 1) on the incorporation of oil into the sediments and organisms at the oiled marsh, 2) on the residence times of certain components of the oil in the marsh ecosystem, 3) on changes in chemical composition of the oil with time due to physical and chemical weathering processes and biochemical degradation of hydrocarbons, 4) on the effects of oiled sediments on the population distribution, behavior, and survival of the intertidal fiddler crab, Uca pugnax, 5) on the relatively small ability of Uca to metabolize hydrocarbons, 6) on the presence of an inducible in vitro microsomal mixed function oxidase (MFO) enzyme system in the marsh minnow, Fundulus heteroclitus, 7) on the presence of high MFO rates in field populations of Fundulus exosed to hydrocarbon pollution, and 8) for the synthesis into a discussion of some of the physiological reasons for the relative sensitivity of marsh animals to oil pollution and their relative ability to adapt to an oil polluted environment.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution June, 1975
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