The influence of chemical dispersion and temperature on the physiological responses to physically dispersed crude oil exposure in larvae of a commercial cold-water marine invertebrate, the American Lobster (Homarus americanus)

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University of New Brunswick


Pelagic larvae of marine animals are vulnerable to oil spills because they are a sensitive early life stage that inhabit near-surface waters. Yet, there is a poor understanding of the physiological effects of petroleum exposure and spill response measures in cold-water marine larvae, especially of invertebrates and during variation in natural factors such as temperature. I found that relevant concentrations of physically and chemically dispersed crude oil had no effect on the metabolic rate and heart rate of larval American lobster (Homarus americanus). Subsequently, I found that exposure to relevant concentrations of physically dispersed crude oil at three environmentally relevant temperatures (9,12,15°C) caused no effect at 12°C compared with an increased metabolic rate at 9°C and high mortality and low heart rate at 15°C. Overall, metabolic and cardiac function of lobster larvae are resilient to oil and dispersant exposure, but there is temperature-dependency in responses to physically dispersed oil.