Theme 3. Environmental effects on the sea floor, water column, coasts, wetlands, and science of ecosystem recovery
The goal of Theme 3 of C-IMAGE is to improve our mechanistic understanding of the impacts of the DWH event on key ecosystem components and to provide a greater analytic capability to forecast impacts of future threats. These results will allow better understanding of the tradeoffs in using different oil spill treatment and mitigation techniques in the context of multiple simultaneous drivers of change accounting for the underlying variability of the ecosystem and its processes. Understanding the direct and indirect effects of the oil spill on the GOM ecosystems requires information on toxicology and population-level benchmarks.
To accomplish our goal we must integrate new knowledge on the dispersion and chemical composition of oil and oil/dispersant mixes from work under Theme 2, with the impacts at the population and ecosystem levels. Theme 3 incorporates five research approaches, which include understanding key relationships between plankton, benthos, fisheries, and marine mammals through retrospective analyses of historical and recent time-series data, integration of additional toxicology information, and model syntheses at both the ecosystem and population levels of trophodynamic interactions within the GOM food web.