Student Independent Projects Sustainable Resource Management 2015: The effects of oil spills on zooplankton population on West Coast of Newfoundland

Gadoua, Tara (2015) Student Independent Projects Sustainable Resource Management 2015: The effects of oil spills on zooplankton population on West Coast of Newfoundland. Research Report. Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Zooplankton are incredibly important for marine ecosystem as they play a pivotal role in marine food web dynamics. (Almeda 201). Zooplankton are not a single type of organism, but rather refers to organisms that ‘drift’ in the ocean, comprised of invertebrates and fish larvae. For these organisms, size is no indication of value, as they are at the foundation of the marine food web, and an important source of protein in the ocean. According to Banse (1995), ‘zooplankton play a key role in marine pelagic ecosystems as grazers on phytoplankton and microzooplankton, exporters of carbon and nutrients from surface waters, and vectors for carbon and toxins to higher trophic levels’. Zooplankton are incredibly important in marine pelagic ecosystems (Cohen et al. 2014). There are micro-& meso-zooplankton (depend on size), and they do a number of things. Zooplankton will graze on the phytoplankton and smaller zooplankton, making these available for higher trophic levels. While all zooplankton are important, I will be focusing on type of mesozooplankton called ‘copepods’. These are often dominant in zooplankton food web, and are key sources of energy for other organisms. Furthermore, there have been many studies performed on this group of organisms, particularly in terms of what effects oil spills might have on them. Copepods are a dominant group of mesozooplankton that form calcium carbonate shells. The effects of oil spills on copepods are not taken into account in environmental assessments. However, as will be demonstrated, impacts on these copepods could have farreaching effects in the ecosystem, some that cannot be predicted. There is limited information available on this subject. Because they are so small and numerous, impacts on them are expected to be negligible. But this might be a false assumption, and could prove to be dangerous since effects on zooplankton could have an impact on the higher trophic levels that feed on it. For instance, there many organisms that feed on zooplankton, such as cod, particularly in the early stages of life, and so impacts on zooplankton could inadvertently harm these other organisms. Data was missing for the west coast in terms of what zooplankton we have here. I looked at different areas of the gulf and obtained data on the type of zooplankton located there. The study I found recorded data for areas in the southwest as well as the Northwest Gulf of St-Lawrence (name these two areas). I also looked at information of zooplankton along the eastern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in general of types of zooplankton in the Northern Atlantic. Oil spills can affect these buggers in a number of ways, not just from the immediate physical effects, but also in terms of the dispersants and the myriad of toxic compounds that they contain, and longer term effects, and sub-lethal effects that are often glossed over. Since there is growing interest in oil development in the Gulf of St-Lawrence, and along the west coast of Newfoundland, this research comes at an important time. Also given that such oil spills as the Exxon Valdez spill, which we will touch upon later, and the BP oil spill, have proven to have catastrophic events. I will be seeking to answer the following questions: -1) What is the role of copepods in the Gulf of St. Lawrence marine environment? -2) What are the major aspects of oil and gas development in the gulf that could affect copepods and what are the implications of these factors?

Item Type: Report (Research Report)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11821
Item ID: 11821
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > Division of Social Science > Sustainable Resource Management
Date: 2015
Date Type: Submission

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