Use of elemental signatures to detect and trace contaminant entry to the northern Gulf of Mexico coastal food web: managing multiple stressors

Project Overview

Implementing Organization
Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL)

DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Funding Program

The RESTORE Act Funds Bucket 4: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program

Project Location: Alabama1

Funding Source: Transocean
Controlling Document: The RESTORE Act
Year Awarded: 2017

Project Details

Project Category

Project Actions

Monitoring and Observations

Monitoring and Observations

Targeted Resources


Project Description

Oysters can serve as a record of water conditions at a particular site because they are stationary filter feeders with a hard shell that continually grows. The shell can even serve as a long-term recorder of water conditions in the past that may remain after the animal has died. This project will measure the trace element profiles in oyster shell and compare them to the trace element profiles in oil and other contaminants. These experiments will make it possible to link the chemical fingerprint in oyster shell back to exposure of that oyster to a contaminant. Because oysters live in waters that vary in salinity, particularly on the Gulf of Mexico coast where freshwater discharge can be very high, this link will be tested under different salinities. Understanding this linkage will make it possible to use historical oyster shell and tissue samples to assess past contaminant exposure at different sites. The trace element profiles in the shell of oysters exposed to contaminants will also be compared to measures of the biological condition of the oyster such as its growth rate to develop an indicator for the condition of oysters at a particular site following contaminant exposure. Using data on mortality and abundance at active oyster restoration sites, this project will also assess whether current or previous exposure to contaminants is related to the status of a restore reef. Overall, the results of this work will benefit the recovery of oysters reefs and the economic and ecosystem services they provide by determining how past oil contamination has impacted current oyster health in the Gulf of Mexico.

Project Contact

Project Partners

The Nature Conservancy

Affiliated Institutions


Project ID: 632
Project Name: Use of elemental signatures to detect and trace contaminant entry to the northern Gulf of Mexico coastal food web: managing multiple stressors
SourceUID: 0
Latitude: 30.24979446
Longitude: -88.07747492
Country: United States of America
State or Province: Alabama
County: Mobile
Project Category: Science
Project Action: Monitoring and Observations
Additional Project Action(s):
Additional Project Action(s): Monitoring and Observations
Targeted Resource(s): Oysters/Reefs
Targeted Resource(s):
Targeted Resource(s):
Anticipated Project Completion Year: 2020
Implementing Organization: Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL)
Implementing Organization Type: State
Point of Contact – Name: Ruth Carmichael
Point of Contact – Phone:
Point of Contact – Email: 251-861-7555
Other Partners: The Nature Conservancy
Affiliated Institutions: None
Project Comments: None
Acres Acquired: 0
Close Year: 0
Close Month: 0
Close day: 0
Purchase Type: None
Landowner: None
Landowner Type: None
Purpose: None
Public Access: None
Easement Holder Name : None
Easement Holder Type: None
Secondary Easement Holder 1: None
Secondary Easement Holder 2: None
Duration: None
Term: 0
Land Restoration Acreage: 0
Aquatic Restoration Acreage: 0
Restoration Mileage: 0
Restoration Feet: 0
Additional Acreage:
Total Dollar Amount (from all funders): 231671
DWH Funder: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
DWH Funder Type: Federal
DWH Funding Program: The RESTORE Act Funds Bucket 4: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program
DWH Dollar Amount : 231671
DWH Source: Transocean
Fund Origin: Civil Settlement
Controlling Documents: The RESTORE Act
Award Year: 2017
Award Month: 6
Total Amount Leveraged: 0

  1. This map shows the location of the institution implementing the project actions.