Navigation Links
Virginia Tech studies impact of Gulf oil spill on plovers

Researchers from Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment have received a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on piping plovers, shorebirds that have been listed as threatened since 1986.

Breeding populations of piping plovers exist in three distinct locations the Atlantic Coast, the American and Canadian Great Plains, and the Great Lakes but birds from all three populations use the Gulf shore as overwintering habitat.

Anticipating the spill's implications for the plover population, the Virginia Tech team began work on the grant application within days of the explosion that caused the oil spill. The first two boats and their crews left Blacksburg for the Gulf the day after the team received notification that its grant proposal had been funded. By the following week, a full team of 28 researchers was collecting data on site.

The team, from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, includes faculty members James Fraser, Sarah Karpanty, and Bill Hopkins, research scientists Daniel Catlin and Jonathan Cohen, and master's student Joy Felio.

When completed, the research will provide data upon which litigators can base settlements for the damage lawsuits resulting from the oil spill. In order to factor damage to plover habitat into these settlements, litigators must know whether and by how much plover survival and migration patterns have changed since the spill.

Fraser, however, would like to see the research used for more than just litigation purposes. "Our real hope," he said, "is that our data will be used for restoration efforts. We want our research to help people think toward the future."

The study will measure survival and migration patterns by comparing rates of survival and emigration in oiled and unoiled areas of the Gulf. Study sites will be limited to areas that historically have had a large number of overwintering plovers.

The team will use a mark-recapture study a study in which birds are captured and tagged so that researchers can estimate population characteristics based on the proportion of tagged birds that can be recaptured to evaluate the plovers' survival and emigration rates. A separate survey will determine the percentage of plovers that have been oiled as a result of the spill.

The present study is funded by the Interior Department's Natural Resource Damage Assessment Program only through the end of the plovers' spring migration in April, but Fraser, who has been studying piping plovers since they were first listed as threatened in 1986, and Karpanty, who has studied migratory shorebirds for the past six years, plan to pursue funding to extend the research.

"Because the spill was an emergency, the funding came late, and the birds were already on the Gulf when we got there," explained Fraser. "I'm very proud of the fact that we were down there the day after we had funding, but it's possible that birds died before we began to take data."

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 of the 126 workers on board and released four to five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was permanently sealed on Sept. 19. Currently, surface oil affects coastal areas from western Louisiana to Pensacola, Fla., with some tar balls appearing as far west as Galveston, Texas. The area's natural oil-eating microbes, which are abundant partly because smaller spills occur so often in the Gulf, and strong sunlight, which increases photooxidation, offer hope for recovery, but the prognosis for the affected area is still uncertain.


Contact: Lynn Davis
Virginia Tech

Related biology news :

1. Government agencies fund improved fuel economy research at Virginia Tech
2. Industry to Demonstrate Off-the-Shelf Integrated Force Protection and Counter-Terrorism Solutions at Northern Virginia Site
3. Virginia Techs Mueller receives friendship award from China
4. Industry to Demonstrate Off-the-Shelf Integrated Force Protection and Counter-Terrorism Solutions at Northern Virginia Site
5. NSF funds Virginia Tech program to train researchers at intersection of engineering, biology
6. Major Force Protection and Anti-Terrorist Equipment Demonstration Set for Next May 17-19 in Northern Virginia
7. Oil spill reshapes sweeping new study of oyster reefs -- Virginia to Florida
8. Efforts underway at Virginia Tech to address deterioration of nations water pipes
9. Virginia Tech mathematician wins international award
10. Virginiamycin may reduce feed costs for swine producers
11. Virginia Tech researcher explores role of human behavior in infectious disease emergence
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Virginia Tech studies impact of Gulf oil spill on plovers
(Date:4/28/2016)... -- First quarter 2016:   , Revenues ... first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% ... and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per ... from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook ... 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... CHICAGO , April 15, 2016  A ... companies make more accurate underwriting decisions in a ... offering timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance ... health screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid ... and lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... 31, 2016   ... the "Company") LegacyXChange is excited to release ... soon to be launched online site for trading 100% ... ) will also provide potential shareholders a sense of ... to an industry that is notorious for fraud. The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... NY (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... While ... machines such as the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines ... is the height of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a leader in clinical research ... Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research professionals, Mosio revisits the ... tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape of how patients receive ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016   Boston Biomedical , an industry ... to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that its ... Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug ... including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is an ... cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... A person commits a crime, and the detective ... the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne illness ... (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria that ... It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, cutting-edge ... illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: