Abstracts
Krupp, F., Abuzinada, A.H. & Nader, I.A. (eds.), A Marine Wildlife Sanctuary for the Arabian Gulf. Environmental research and conservation following the 1991 Gulf War Oil Spill. NCWCD, Riyadh and Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt a.M.
 

Recolonisation of the intertidal flats by microbial mats after the Gulf War oil spill

A b s t r a c t: A study of oil-impacted and unpolluted shores revealed that extensive microbial mats, dominated by cyanobacteria, covered vast areas of the upper intertidal zone of the Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary before the oil spill. The most widespread mat morphologies can be described as folded, pinnacle, flat or polygonal. They are related to different species compositions and environmental conditions. The most common taxa found in these microbial mats were filamentous cyanobacteria belonging to the genera Lyngbya, Microcoleus and Schizothrix. Most of the intertidal mats were affected severely by the oil spill. Living mats survived only in some upper intertidal zones close to the supratidal and in areas protected from oil by physical barriers. Two years after the oil spill, no sign of cyanobacterial growth was observed in the areas where the tar layer was still on the surface. However, in areas of the intertidal zone where the tar was covered by a sediment layer, extensive growth of cyanobacterial mats occurred after a short period. A marked zonation of mat types could be observed, the most important being flat, polygonal and pinnacle mats. The most common cyanobacterial species in these newly established mats were Microcoleus chthonoplastesand Lyngbya aestuarii. The distribution, structure and species composition of the different mat types which had colonised the intertidal flats 18 and 27 months after the oil spill are described and their possible role in the self-cleaning of the oil-impacted coastal areas is discussed.

 
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