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BP Research Dollars Yield Signs of Cautious Hope

by Erik Stokstad

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Here’s an unfamiliar group of victims hard hit by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill tragedy: insects and spiders. When the scope of the Gulf of Mexico blowout became clear, ecologist Linda Hooper-Bui of Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge and her graduate student Xuan Chen raced to add sites to their study of coastal wetlands. Kick-started by a rapid grant from the National Science Foundation, they discovered that insects and spiders were few and far between in the oiled marshes. “I would call it devastation,” Hooper-Bui says. The experiments have also shown – to her surprise – that insects continued to die in unusually high numbers even a year later, perhaps due to vapors from the oil. (Science, 339,8 February 2012)

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