A food chain-based ecological risk assessment model for oil spills in the Arctic environment
This paper investigates the linkage between the acute impacts on apex marine mammals with polar cod responses to an oil spill. It proposes a Bayesian network-based model to link these direct and indirect effects on the apex marine mammals. The model predicts a recruitment collapse (for the scenarios considered), causing a higher risk of mortality of polar bears, beluga whales, and Narwhals in the Arctic region. Whales (adult and calves) were predicted to be at higher risk when the spill was under thick ice, while adult polar bears were at higher risk when the spill occurred on thin ice. A spill over the thick ice caused the least risk to whale and adult polar bears. The spill's timing and location have a significant impact on the animals in the Arctic region due to its unique sea ice dynamics, simple food web, and short periods of food abundance.