The beach ecosystems along the northern Gulf Coast underwent a major disturbance in the months following the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and its release of the equivalent of 4.9 million barrels of oil. In 2013 Bay Paul Center scientists published a study of the changes in microbial community composition from oil hydrocarbon contaminated sands at 7 coastal sites that experienced a range of oiling. They documented that in addition to increases in oil hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria there were community-wide impacts including increased variability of core, resident, and transient members of the bacterial community in coastal sands. These changes could affect the biological and chemical homeostasis at the foundation of coastal ecosystems.
Newton, R. J., Huse, S. M., Morrison, H. G., Peake, C. S., Sogin, M. L., and McLellan, S. L. (2013b). “Shifts in the microbial community composition of Gulf Coast beaches following beach oiling.” PLoS One, 8(9), e74265.