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Distinguishing between contaminant and reef effects on meiofauna near offshore hydrocarbon platforms in the Gulf of Mexico

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Abstract:

Offshore hydrocarbon production effects are localized in the Gulf of Mexico extending only 200 m from platforms. Effects are caused by the contaminant gradient or the fouling community on platform legs. To distinguish between contaminant and reef effects, meiofauna were sampled at production platforms (reef and contaminant effects), artificial reefs (reef, but no contaminant effects), platform removal sites (contaminant, but no reef effects), and controls (no contaminants or reef effects), and replicated in three blocks. The removal sites had higher concentrations of many contaminants than reef or control sites, but lower concentrations than platform sites. Reduced meiobenthic abundances and altered Harpacticoida community structure were primarily a function of reef effects, not contaminant effects. The habitat influence is likely a result of complex ecological interactions near platforms. The reef effect appears to be important in controlling meiofauna near platforms where contaminants are low because of drilling and production techniques used in the Gulf of Mexico. The finding that contaminants alone do not explain faunal patterns around offshore platforms indicates that future studies should include appropriate artificial reef control sites.

Les effets de la production d'hydrocarbures au large des côtes du golfe du Mexique ne dépassent pas 200 m des plates-formes. Les effets sont causés par un gradient de contaminants ou par la communauté qui encrasse les pattes de la plate-forme. Pour distinguer les effets dus aux contaminants de ceux reliés aux récifs, nous avons échantillonné la méïofaune sur des plates-formes en production active (effets des récifs et des contaminants), sur des récifs artificiels (effets des récifs, mais non des contaminants), sur des sites d'où les plates-formes avaient été enlevées (effets des contaminants, mais non des récifs) et enfin sur des sites témoins (sans effets de contaminants, ni de récifs); ces échantillonnages ont été répétés dans trois blocs. Les sites d'où les plates-formes ont été retirées ont de plus fortes concentrations de contaminants que les récifs ou les sites témoins, mais moins que les plates-formes en production. Les densités réduites du méïobenthos et la modification de la structure de la communauté d'Harpacticoida sont reliées surtout aux effets de récifs, pas des contaminants. L'influence de l'habitat résulte sans doute d'interactions écologiques complexes près des plates-formes. L'effet des récifs semble important dans le contrôle de la méïofaune près des plates-formes où les concentrations de contaminants sont faibles à cause des techniques de forage et de production utilisées dans le golfe du Mexique. La structure de la faune près des plates-formes au large ne s'explique donc pas seulement par la présence de contaminants; il faudra inclure dans les études futures des sites témoins de récifs appropriés.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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