WIT Press

Predicting Ecological Resilience Of Marine Benthic Communities Facing A High Risk Of Oil Spills


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Page Range

101 - 110




455 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. Kotta, R. Aps & K. Herkül


Predicting ecological resilience of marine benthic communities facing a high risk of oil spills J. Kotta1, R. Aps1 & K. Herkül1,2 1Estonian Marine Institute, University of Tartu, Tallinn, Estonia 2Institute of Zoology and Hydrobiology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia Abstract Ecosystem resilience emphasizes two different aspects of stability, i.e. the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbances (sensitivity) and rebuild itself when necessary (recovery). This paper examines the relationships between the magnitude of oil spill and the resilience of benthic invertebrate communities in the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea during 2006–2007. We analyzed whether and how depth, sediment type, topographic structure and exposure contributed to these relationships. Predictive spatial modelling was used to extrapolate the sensitivity of benthic invertebrate communities into the whole gulf scale based on the knowledge of the combined effects of environmental variability, oil exposure and biotic patterns. Predictive modelling provides managers with a useful and cost-efficient tool in reducing the potential oil spill related environmental risk by, e.g., redirecting shipping away from sites that have high sensitivity and low recovery potential, and by allocating sufficient oil combating resources to protect those areas in the case of oil accident. Keywords: Baltic Sea, benthic invertebrates, recovery, sensitivity. 1 Introduction Oil spills are ranked among the major threat to the stability of marine environment and can have severe impacts on nearshore biodiversity and functioning [1]. Accidental spills coat the shoreline with oil leading to immediate impacts [2, 3] whereas responses are more subtle and less known in subtidal


Baltic Sea, benthic invertebrates, recovery, sensitivity.