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Academy's mollusk collection plays key role in Gulf oil impact study
Date:8/4/2010

rawing these compounds from the water column. If, however, they are being incorporated at different rates, it would mean the animals are receiving contaminants from their food sources. Mollusks are being studied because, as "primary consumers," shellfish are likely to be the first to show traces of hydrocarbons and heavy metals that could later be passed on to creatures that feed on shellfish. Given the carcinogenic nature of hydrocarbons, the concern lies with the physiological damage to marine life once the materials have spread through the food chain.

"There is little use saying 'the BP spill will pollute the Gulf' unless you can demonstrate how polluted the Gulf was to begin with and how long it's been since it wasn't polluted at all," said Paul Callomon, the Academy of Natural Sciences' malacology collection manager. "While much of the oil spill's impact is unknown, Dr. Roopnarine's research using the Academy's collection will create a foundation to answer some of these questions."

On a related note, Academy Malacology Curator Dr. Gary Rosenberg documented more than 1,700 species of mollusks from the Gulf of Mexico for a book published last year on the fauna and flora of that region. Rosenberg said "about 10 percent of the species of mollusks in the Gulf are endemics, known from nowhere else on earth. Such species are the ones at greatest risk from the oil spill."


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Contact: Carolyn Belardo
belardo@ansp.org
215-299-1043
The Academy of Natural Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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