Author ORCID Identifier

Alquati, Andrea Bonisoli: 0000-0002-9255-7556
Taylor, Sabrina: 0000-0002-0118-9883

Document Type


Publication Date



Carbon isotopic evidence revealed Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil entering coastal planktonic and lower terrestrial food webs. The integration of spilled oil into higher terrestrial trophic levels, however, remains uncertain. Wemeasured radiocarbon (C-14) and stable carbon (C-13) in seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus) feathers and crop contents. Lower C-14 and C-13 values in feathers and crop contents of birds from contaminated areas indicated incorporation of carbon from oil. Our results, although based on a small sample of birds, thus reveal a food-web link between oil exposure and a terrestrial ecosystem. They also suggest that the reduction in reproductive success previously documented in the same population might be due to the (direct) toxic effect of oil exposure, rather than to (indirect) ecological effects. Werecommend future studies test our results by using larger samples of birds from a wider area in order to assess the extent and implications ofDWHoil incorporation into the terrestrial food web.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Environmental Research Letters