Interaction effects of crude oil and nutrient exposure on settlement of coral reef benthos

Ann Marie Hulver*, Alexandra Steckbauer, Joanne I. Ellis, Eva Aylagas, Florian Roth, Najeh Kharbatia, Timothy Thomson, Susana Carvalho, Burton H. Jones, Michael L. Berumen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropogenic stressors increasingly cause ecosystem-level changes to sensitive marine habitats such as coral reefs. Intensification of coastal development and shipping traffic can increase nutrient and oil pollution on coral reefs, yet these two stressors have not been studied in conjunction. Here, we simulate a disturbance scenario exposing carbonate settlement tiles to nutrient and oil pollution in a full-factorial design with four treatments: control, nutrients, oil, and combination to examine community structure and net primary productivity (NPP) of pioneer communities throughout 28 weeks. Compared to the control treatment oil pollution decreased overall settlement and NPP, while nutrients increased turf algae and NPP. However, the combination of these two stressors resulted in similar community composition and NPP as the control. These results indicate that pioneer communities may experience shifts due to nutrient enrichment, and/or oil pollution. However, the timing and duration of an event will influence recovery trajectories requiring further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114352
JournalMarine pollution bulletin
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Coral reefs
  • Multiple stressors
  • Nutrients
  • Oil pollution
  • Pioneer communities
  • Red Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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