Coral-Tox: A Species-Sensitivity Assessment of Petroleum Hydrocarbon Toxicity to Scleractinian Corals
Nova Southeastern University
DWH Project Funding
Known Leveraged Funding
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Grant Program
Physical Aspects Research
From the perspective of Oil Spill Preparedness and Response (OSPR), coral reefs, with particular focus on the impacts on the coral animal itself, represent one of the highest valued natural resources for protection in Net Environmental Benefit Analysis (NEBA) of response methods and environmental damage. Previous research evaluating hydrocarbon toxicity to corals and coral reefs has generally focused on community-level effects (relatively little is known at the individual and cellular level) and results are often not comparable between studies due to variability in hydrocarbon exposure characterization and evaluation of coral health/mortality during exposure. Overall, this represents an important knowledge gap in oil spill preparedness and response as it relates to the potential impact of oil spills on coral reefs. Ongoing research by this laboratory has sought to fill the data gap in hydrocarbon toxicity to corals through development and application of a standardized toxicity testing protocol using single hydrocarbons, which considers coral response at multiple levels of resolution and is applicable to many coral species and test scenarios. The central objective of the proposed project is to expand on this existing work by including four additional important species of Atlantic scleractinian corals. A central goal of these experiments is to address the lack of knowledge which exists regarding environmental effects of the petroleum/dispersant system on scleractinian corals, which are key coastal organisms.