SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1984

A Laboratory Approach for Determining the Effect of Oils and Dispersants on Mangroves


An experimental approach was developed and applied to testing the effects of oil and dispersant combinations on the growth of mangrove seedlings (trees of the intertidal tropics). A controlled growth chamber was employed to test the effects of different oils and dispersed oils in an array of dosages applied to different parts of the plants. Preliminary test results are reported for two species of mangroves collected from five localities, including both oiled and unoiled estuaries. Differences occurred between species, substances, dosages, the part of the plant dosed, and the presence of chronic oil pollution at localities from which the stocks were collected. Avicennia germinans (L.) L. (black mangrove) was more sensitive than Rhizophora mangle L. (red mangrove) when exposed to almost all substances tested. Light Arabian crude oil (LA) and light Arabian crude oil dispersed (LAD) were the most toxic substances tested. No. 2 fuel oil (N2) and No. 2 fuel oil dispersed (N2D) were as toxic as LA and LAD, except for an increase (an enhancement effect) in foliage and stem growth in Avicennia at lower dosages. Bunker C oil (BC) was the least toxic of the oils tested, resulting in the reduction of foliage and stem growth only at the highest dosage tested in Avicennia. Bunker C oil dispersed (BCD) failed to show effects in either species at any dosage tested. The leaves of Rhizophora were the most sensitive part of the plant tested. Root-dosing had a lesser effect than leaf-dosing but resulted in greater effects with LAD than with any other substance tested. Seedling stock from chronically oiled areas sprouted more rapidly and developed more foliage in response to LA, indicating a possible “preadaptation” to spilled oil; no such effect occurred when dispersant was added to LA. The response of mangroves was specific to the oil type to which the dispersant was added. Dispersant increased the toxicity of LA and N2 but decreased the toxicity of BC.

Author Information

Getter, CD
Baca, BJ
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Developed by Committee: F20
Pages: 5–13
DOI: 10.1520/STP30224S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4906-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0400-6