Long Term Impacts on Ecosystems

While impacts to individual species and life stages are important, when considering the complex nature of the marine ecosystem both population- and community-level impacts should also be assessed. Issues include how the impairment of individuals may impact a population, how population impacts influence those of other species to potentially alter the balance of a community, and if such an imbalance is reversible. Due to both ease and simplicity, most studies to date have considered species impacts individually; relatively little research has focused on overall ecosystem changes. Moreover, laboratory studies have generally focused on acute actions; thus, little is known about chronic effects. Therefore, currently decisions regarding oil spill response and remediation tend to rely on very limited toxicological and ecological information.

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