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Intertidal Diatom Populations as Indicators of the Extent of the Kuwait Oil Spill

A b s t r a c t: Diatoms were collected from a variety of habitats on the Saudi Arabian Gulf coast from Khafji to Dhahran in January and February 1993 and the communities were compared with those from similar sites on Bahrain which were unaffected by the 1991 Gulf War oil spill. Preliminary results show that diatom communities can be used as reliable indicators of habitat type. Studies on the use of diatoms as indicators for the extent of the Gulf War oil spill have not yet been concluded. At least one new species has been, and several new genera may be, described as a result of the collections.