Is the cutting of oil contaminated marshes an efficient clean-up technique in a subtropical estuary?

  • Published source details Wolinski A.L.T.O., Lana P.C. & Sandrini-Neto L. (2011) Is the cutting of oil contaminated marshes an efficient clean-up technique in a subtropical estuary?. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62, 1227-1232.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut or burn oil-contaminated vegetation: brackish/salt marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Cut or burn oil-contaminated vegetation: brackish/salt marshes

    A replicated, paired, controlled, site comparison study in 2007–2008 in two brackish/salt marshes in southern Brazil (Wolinski et al. 2011) found that cutting and removing smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora from oiled plots did not increase cordgrass biomass, density or height. Over the nine months following intervention, cut and uncut plots contained a similar above-ground cordgrass biomass in 5 of 8 comparisons (for which cut: 32–127; uncut: 61–159 g/m2), similar cordgrass densities in 7 of 9 comparisons (for which cut: 32–382; uncut: 35–372 plants/m2), and cordgrass of similar maximum height in 11 of 18 comparisons (for which cut: 43–102; uncut: 39–102 cm). In the other comparisons, cut plots contained less cordgrass biomass and fewer, shorter cordgrass plants. In all comparisons at least six months after intervention, all metrics (biomass, density and height) were statistically similar in cut plots, uncut plots and natural (undisturbed) plots (see original paper for data). Methods: Eighteen 2.5 x 2.5 m plots were established (in six sets of three) across two estuarine marshes (salinity: 12–34 ppt) dominated by smooth cordgrass. In December 2007, twelve plots (two plots/set) were sprayed with oil (ship fuel; 6 L/11 m2). One week later, vegetation was cut and removed from six of the oiled plots (one plot/set). The final six plots (one plot/set) were neither oiled nor cut. Smooth cordgrass within the plots was surveyed monthly until September 2008. To sample biomass, live cordgrass was cut, dried and weighed.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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