Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill(DWHOS)spatially and temporally overlapped with the spawning of many fish species, including Red Snapper, one of the most economically important reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. To investigate potential impacts of the DWHOS on larval Red Snapper, data from a long-term ichthyoplankton survey off the coast of Alabama were used to examine: (1)larval abundances among pre-impact (2007–2009), impact(2010), and post-impact (2011, 2013) periods; (2) proxies for larval condition (size-adjusted morphometric relationships and dry weight) among the same periods; and (3) the effects of background environmental variation on larval condition. We found that larval Red Snapper were in poorer body condition during 2010, 2011, and 2013 as compared to the 2007–2009 period, a trend that was strongly (and negatively)related to variation in Mobile Bay freshwater discharge. However, larvae collected during and after 2010 were in relatively poor condition even after accounting for variation in freshwater discharge and other environmental variables. By contrast, no differences in larval abundance were detected during these survey years. Taken together, larval supply did not change relative to the timing of the DWHOS, but larval condition was negatively impacted. Even small changes in condition can affect larval survival, so these trends may have consequences for recruitment of larvae to juvenile and adult life stages.
Environmental Research Letters
Hernandez Jr., F.,
Ransom, J. T.
(2016). Condition of Larval Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) Relative to Environmental Variability and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Environmental Research Letters, 11.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/15335