Trace Embryonic Crude Oil Exposure Leads to Long-Term Bioenergetic Impacts in a Keystone Arctic Marine Forage Fish
47 Pages Posted: 7 May 2019 Publication Status: PublishedMore...
As Arctic ice recedes, future oil spills pose increasingly important risks to keystone species and the ecosystems they support. We show here that Polar cod, an energy-rich forage fish for marine mammals, seabirds, and other fish, are highly sensitive to developmental impacts of crude oil. Oil exposures disrupted the normal patterning of the jaw as well as the formation and function of the heart, in a manner expected to be lethal to early post-hatch larvae. More importantly, we found that transient exposures to exceptionally low levels of oil caused a dysregulation of lipid metabolism and growth that persisted in morphologically normal, post-metamorphic juveniles. As lipid content is critical for overwinter survival and recruitment, we anticipate Polar cod losses following Arctic oil spills as a consequence of both near-term and delayed mortality. These losses are likely to influence energy flow within Arctic food webs in ways that are as-yet poorly understood.
Keywords: oil spill, marine lipids, latent effects, larval fish, Polar cod, overwintering
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