DataSheet1_Establishing a benthic macrofaunal baseline for the sandy shoreline ecosystem within the Gulf Islands National Seashore in response to the DwH oil spill.pdf
Sandy shorelines present a first line of defense against the catastrophic effects of storms and oil spills within the coastal zone of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Immediately following the DwH oil spill prior to any spill related impacts, we conducted a rapid response survey of the sandy shoreline benthic macrofauna from throughout the National Park Service - Gulf Islands National Seashore (GINS) in Mississippi and Florida. To characterize pre-spill macrofaunal assemblages, we surveyed seven barrier island or peninsular areas comprising nine exposed and 12 protected shoreline sites. A comparable benthic macrofaunal inventory had been conducted 17 years earlier using a parallel study design. The primary objective of this study was to distinguish hierarchical spatiotemporal scales of macrofaunal variation within the 1993 and 2010 GINS data. We hypothesized that the 1993 GINS macrofaunal inventory baseline was stable, despite multiple disturbances by large storms within the intervening 17-year period. Additionally, the relative importance of hierarchical spatial scales of macrofaunal dissimilarity was examined so suitable scales of macrofaunal variation could be identified for assessments of stressor effects at commensurate scales. An Implicit Nested Mixed Model PERMANOVA using Type 1 sequential Sum of Squares delineated variation components of nested scales which ranked Station > Shore Side > Site > Habitat > District > Year. The Year main factor had the smallest effect on macrofaunal variation, confirming that the 1993 GINS macrofaunal inventory can serve as the foundation for a robust baseline including both the 1993 and the 2010 macrofaunal data for the GINS. A literal Hierarchical Nested Mixed Model PERMANOVA using Type 1 sequential Sum of Squares (SS) partitioned effects among nested factors and their interactions. Definitive macrofaunal variation was expressed for all combinations of two levels for each of the three spatially nested fixed factors, District, Shore Side, and Habitat. Variation in macrofaunal dissimilarity for combined levels of fixed factors reflected corresponding differences in the macrofauna. The use of sandy shoreline macrofaunal assemblages as ecological indicators would fulfill the need to focus on cumulative effects of oil spills and should be eminently tractable when responses and impacts are considered on commensurate scales.