Skip to main content Accessibility help

Differential responses of a benthic meiofaunal community to an artificial oil spill in the intertidal zone

  • Teawook Kang (a1) (a2), Won-Gi Min (a3), Hyun Soo Rho (a3), Heung-Sik Park (a4) and Dongsung Kim (a5)...


This study aimed to determine the potential impact of an oil spill on intertidal meiofauna at a clean, sandy beach in Korea. This objective was accomplished by examining changes in the structure of meiofaunal assemblages after a controlled oil spill of different concentrations on the beach. The concentration of total petroleum hydrocabon (TPH) in the experimental plots after oil application was expectedly higher for the first 4 d compared to before oil application. The TPH concentrations decreased at a faster rate in the first 4 d, and then progressively. The sharp decline in meiofaunal density in the experimental plots during the first 4 d after the spill might be attributed to the short-term toxic effects of the oil. This suggestion is supported by a significant negative interaction of the TPH on meiofaunal density during the study period. The period of low density of meiofauna also coincided with the maximum concentration of TPH in the sediment. The multivariate indices proved to be highly efficient, showing that samples contaminated with oil had high TPH concentrations, and were partially separated in terms of meiofaunal communities from samples before oil application or samples with low TPH concentrations. The structure of the meiofaunal communities in the experimental plots was similar before and 1 month after oil application. However, the density of meiofauna sharply decreased immediately after oil application in the experiment plots. Furthermore, the meiofaunal density recovered slowly as time passed.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: D. Kim, East Sea Research, KIOST Hujeong, Jukbyeon, Uljin-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea email:


Hide All
Alongi, D.M., Boesch, D.F. and Diaz, R.J. (1983) Colonization of meiobenthos in oil-contaminated subtidal sands in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Marine Biology 72, 325335.
Ansari, Z.A. and Ingole, B. (2002) Effect of an oil spill from MV Sea Transporter on intertidal meiofauna at Goa, India. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44, 396402.
Austen, M.C. and McEvoy, A.J. (1997) The use of offshore meiobenthic communities in laboratory microcosm experiments: response to heavy metal contamination. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 211, 247261.
Bodin, P. (1988) Results of ecological monitoring of three beaches polluted by the Amoco Cadiz oil spill: development of meiofauna from 1978 to 1984. Marine Ecology Progress Series 42, 105123.
Bonsdorf, E. (1981) The Antonio Gramsci oil spill impact on the littoral and benthic ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin 12, 301305.
Boucher, G. (1980) Impact of Amoco Cadiz oil spill on intertidal and sublittoral meiofauna. Marine Pollution Bulletin 11, 95101.
Blumer, M. (1976) Polycyclic aromatic compounds in nature. Scientific American 234, 3445.
Burgess, R. (2001) An improved protocol for separating meiofauna from sediments using colloidal silica sols. Marine Ecology Progress Series 214, 161165.
Cairns, J. (1983) Are single species toxicity tests alone adequate for estimating environmental hazard? Hydrobiologia 100, 4757.
Carman, K.R., Bianchi, T.S. and Kloep, F. (2000a) Influence of grazing and nitrogen on benthic algal blooms in diesel fuel-contaminated saltmarsh sediments. Environmental Science & Technology 34, 107111.
Carman, K.R., Fleeger, J.W. and Pomarico, S.M. (2000b) Does historical exposure to hydrocarbon contamination alter the response of benthic communities to diesel contamination? Marine Environmental Research 49, 255278.
Christie, H. and Berge, J.A. (1995) In situ experiments on recolonisation of intertidal mudflat fauna to sediment contaminated with different concentrations of oil. Sarsia 80, 175185.
Clarke, K.R. and Gorley, R.N. (2001) PRIMER v.5. User manual. Plymouth: PRIMER-E.
Clements, W.H. and Kiffney, P.M. (1994) Assessing contaminant effects at higher levels of biological organization. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 13, 357359.
Commito, J.A. and Tita, G. (2002) Differential dispersal rates in an intertidal meiofauna assemblage. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 268, 237256.
Danovaro, R. (2000) Benthic microbial loop and meiofaunal response to oil-induced disturbance in coastal sediments: a review. International Journal of Environment and Pollution 13, 380391.
Danovaro, R., Fabiano, M. and Vincx, M. (1995) Meiofauna response to the Agip Abruzzo oil spill in subtidal sediments of the Ligurian Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin 30, 133145.
Dauvin, J.C. (1982) Impact of Amoco Cadiz oil spill on the muddy fine sand Abra alba and Melinna palmata community from the Bay of Morlaix. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 14, 517531.
Decker, C.J. and Fleeger, J.W. (1984) The effect of crude oil on the colonization of meiofauna into salt marsh sediments. Hydrobiologia 118, 4958.
Edgar, G.J. and Barrett, N.S. (2000) Impact of the Iron Baron oil spill on subtidal reef assemblages in Tasmania. Marine Pollution Bulletin 40, 3649.
Fleeger, J.W. and Chandler, G.T. (1983) Meiofauna response to an experimental oil spill in a Louisiana salt marsh. Marine Ecology Progress Series 11, 257264.
Fleeger, J.W., Carman, K.R. and Nisbet, R.M. (2003) Indirect effects of contaminants in aquatic ecosystems. Science of the Total Environment 317, 207233.
Friethsen, J.B., Elmgren, R. and Rudnick, D.T. (1985) Responses of benthic meiofauna to long-term, low-level additions of No. 2 fuel oil. Marine Ecology Progress Series 23, 114.
Giere, O. (1979) The impact of oil pollution on intertidal meiofauna–field studies after the La Coruna-Spill, May 1976. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 20, 231251.
Hargrave, B.T. and Thiel, H. (1983) Assessment of pollution induced changes in benthic community structure. Marine Pollution Bulletin 14, 4146.
Harvey, R.G. (1997) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. New York: Wiley-VCH, pp. 90169.
Hayes, M.O., Michel, J., Montello, T.M., Al-Mansi, A.M., Jensen, J.R., Narumalani, S., Aurand, D.V., Al-Momen, A.H. and Thayer, G.W. (1993) Distribution of oil from the Gulf War spill within intertidal habitats—one year later. Proceedings of International Oil Spill Conference, Florida March 29, 1993. Washington, DC: American Petroleum Institute, p. 373–379.
Heip, C., Vincx, M. and Vranken, G. (1985) The ecology of marine nematodes. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review 23, 399489.
Higgins, R.P. and Thiel, H. (1988) Introduction to the study of meiofauna. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Jewett, S.C., Dean, T.A., Smith, R.O. and Blanchard, A. (1999) ‘Exxon Valdez' oil spill: impacts and recovery in the soft-bottom benthic community in and adjacent to eelgrass beds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 185, 5983.
Kennish, M.J. (1992) Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. In Ecology of estuaries: anthropogenic effects. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 133181.
Li, C.H., Zhou, H.W., Wong, Y.S. and Tam, N.F. (2009) Vertical distribution and anaerobic biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mangrove sediments in Hong Kong, South China. Science of the Total Environment 21, 57725779.
Little, D.I. (1987) Oiled sediments in the Humber estuary following the Sivand incident. In Proceedings of 1987 Oil Spill Conference, 6 April 1987. Washington, DC: American Petroleum Institute, pp. 419–426.
Long, E.R., Macdonald, D., Smith, S.L. and Calder, F.D. (1995) Incidence of adverse biological effects within ranges of chemical concentrations in marine and estuarine sediments. Journal of Environmental Management 19, 8197.
Mendelssohn, I.A., Andersen, G.L., Baltz, D., Caffey, R., Carman, K.R., Fleeger, J.W., Joye, S.B., Lin, Q., Maltby, E., Overton, E. and Rozas, L. (2012) Oil impacts on coastal wetlands: implications for the Mississippi River Delta ecosystem after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Bioscience 62, 562574.
Moore, C.G. and Stevenson, J.M. (1997) A possible new meiofaunal tool for rapid assessment of the environmental impact of marine oil pollution. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 38, 277282.
Naidu, A.A., Feder, H.M. and Norrell, S.A. (1978) The effect of Prudhoe Bay crude oil on a tidal-flat ecosystem in Port Valdez, Alaska. In Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Offshore Technology Conference, 8 May 1978, Houston, Texas, pp. 94–104.
Palmer, M.A. (1988) Dispersal of marine meiofauna: a review and conceptual model explaining passive transport and active emergence with implications for recruitment. Marine Ecology Progress Series 48, 8191.
Platt, H.M. and Warwick, R.M. (1983) A synopsis of the free living marine nematodes. Part I. British enoplids. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sandulli, R. and Nicola-Gludiei, M. (1990) Pollution effects on the structure of meiofaunal communities in the bay of Naples. Marine Pollution Bulletin 21, 144153.
Schratzberger, M., Danie, F., Wall, C.M., Kilbride, R., Macnaughton, S.J., Boyd, S.E., Rees, H.L. and Swannell, R.P.J. (2003) Response of estuarine meio and macrofauna to in situ bioremediation of oil contaminated sediment. Marine Pollution Bulletin 46, 430443.
Schwinghamer, P. (1988) Influence of pollution along a natural gradient and in a mesocosm experiment on biomass-size spectra of benthic communities. Marine Ecology Progress Series 46, 199206.
Wieser, W. (1953) Die beziehung zwischen Mundhohlengestalt, Ernahrungsweise und Vorkommen bei freilebenden marinen Nematoden. Eine okologisch-morphologische Studie. Arkiv for zoologi 4, 439484.
Wormald, A.P. (1976) Effects of a spill of marine diesel oil on meiofauna of a sandy beach at Picnic Bay, Hong-Kong. Environmental Pollution 11, 117130.
Wrenn, B.A., Venosa, A.D. and Suidan, M.T. (1999) Contaminant redistribution can confound interpretation of oil-spill bioremediation studies. Columbus, OH: Battelle Press, 221226.


Differential responses of a benthic meiofaunal community to an artificial oil spill in the intertidal zone

  • Teawook Kang (a1) (a2), Won-Gi Min (a3), Hyun Soo Rho (a3), Heung-Sik Park (a4) and Dongsung Kim (a5)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed