A University of Houston biologist studying the long-term environmental impact of the Gulf oil spill was recently featured on the National Geographic website.
Using huge vacuums, biology professor Steven Pennings is collecting samples of marsh bugs along Gulf marshes affected by the spill. These small insects, near the bottom of the food chain, form a vital part of the ecosystem.
By comparing these samples – collected at 22 sites along the coast – to marsh bugs collected last year, Pennings hopes to learn more about the long-term ecological consequences of the spill. This year’s study is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“In this case we’re likely to see the oil won’t just affect one or two species but might affect a large portion and that could perturb the food web in novel ways,” Pennings said.
Learn more about this research and watch the news video featured on the National Geographic website.