Build a New Toxicity Query

 [Select a field to filter]
Select filters and values above to quickly access the data of interest. Click Run Query to view matching studies and export experimental data and related files.

This dashboard provides access to and details on the data produced by the Trustees’ toxicity testing program to evaluate the impacts of the spill on Gulf ecological communities. In the dashboard, the user first identifies the types of studies they are interested in (this page). Running the query brings the user to the Study Summary and EC/LC Parameters tabs, filtered to the those studies. From either tab, the user can export the underlying data through the “Export Data for these Studies” button.

The Study Summary tab provides summary information on each study and allows the user to download related files for each study. These files include detailed instrument data (e.g., UV readouts and Swim Tunnel reports), videos, and images, as well as dose-response plots if calculated. Some of the files, particularly videos and images, may be quite large. Note that some studies are chemistry only, which is noted as a No in the Tox field.

The EC/LC Parameters tab provides further details on the statistical calculations done for certain endpoints and experiments. Clicking on each row provides the dose-response plot for that experiment and endpoint.

The Export Data for these Studies button provides a download interface with options for downloading data for all of the selected studies. This includes summary bioassay data, data on bioassay replicates, statistics data, chemistry, and numerous other supporting files such as test conditions and summary UV data. The export is a zip file containing the spreadsheets (as .csv) of each selected data type for all studies as well as study notes. Note that these data files are separate from the various related files for each study available on the Study Summary tab.

Filter FieldDefinition
EndpointBroad endpoint class (eg. Growth)
ExperimentUnique experiment identifier
Life StageLife history stage
Species: CommonSpecies by common name
Species: LatinSpecies by scientific/Latin name
Test DurationTotal test duration, in hours
Test SubstanceSubstances against which toxicity was tested
Mixing MethodMethod used to prepare testing mixture.  See GLPP for detailed methods.
Added StressorsStressors applied to experiment (e.g., UV, salinity)
Renewal RegimeMedia renewal process (e.g., static, flow-through)


The DWH Toxicity General Laboratory Procedures and Practices (GLPP), as well as a file of all fields and definitions from the database, are available in the Reference Documents section below. Fields and definitions relevant to specific export files are also provided as a .csv with each export package and within the XML metadata.

Adapted abstract from Morris et al. (2015)  Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Comprehensive Toxicity Testing Program: Overview, Methods, and Results.

The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill released millions of barrels of oil in the northern Gulf of Mexico between April 20 and July 15 in 2010. (U.S. District Court, 2015). The combination of water depth, distance to shore, duration, dispersant use, and volume of the DWH oil spill exposed natural resources to oil and dispersants on an unprecedented spatial scale and magnitude. The timing of the spill and the vast geographical area that it contaminated coincided with the height of the reproductive season for multitudes of Gulf of Mexico species; the spill also intersected with critical habitats for a wide range of these species and their life-stages. The oil that remains in benthic habitats and environments associated with the shoreline continues to pose an exposure risk to organisms in these areas. The vast temporal and geographic scale of this oil spill resulted in a complex series of exposure pathways, durations, and contaminant composition profiles. Exposure to oil and dispersant occurred through various pathways, which included direct exposure as well as ingestion of contaminated water and sediments or consumption of contaminated prey.

The Trustees’ toxicity testing program included more than 40 species of fish, aquatic invertebrates, phytoplankton, reptiles, and birds. The life-stages we included in our bioassays ranged from gametes to adults depending on the species and study objective. Most of the tested species were native to the Gulf of Mexico, while a handful of non-native surrogate species were used as model test species. The species and life-stages we included in our toxicity testing matrix represent a range of habitats, including marsh and sandy areas on the shoreline, pelagic and benthic estuarine areas, and offshore pelagic habitats. The oil samples we used in bioassays were all DWH oil collected from the well or the field (i.e., floating slick oil and oiled sediments) and ranged in weathering state from fresh oil to highly weathered oil [e.g., 85-90% loss of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) relative to hopane; Forth et al., 2015; Morris et al., 2015]. We also used dispersant (COREXIT® 9500) in bioassays to study the effects of exposure to dispersant or chemically dispersed oil on organisms.

Our study designs used several different contaminant exposure routes (Figure 1), including waterborne [water accommodated fractions (WAFs); Forth et al., 2015], contaminated sediments (Krasnec et al., 2015), direct contact with oil, and ingestion. In addition, we conducted bioassays to study other stressors that organisms would also have experienced in the field during the oil spill, such as exposure to elevated water temperatures; decreased dissolved oxygen (anoxia); ranges in salinity; and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which results in photo-induced toxicity.

Finally, to determine and quantify the nature and extent of adverse biological effects induced through exposure to oil, we measured a large suite of toxicological endpoints. These endpoints included survival; growth; reproduction; behavior; cardiac defects; histological abnormalities; gene expression; immune function; physical performance, such as swimming; and general physiological parameters. More than 25 Principal Investigators from collaborating university, government, and private laboratories and consultants conducted these studies. These collaborations produced more than 500 toxicological bioassays and chemical characterizations.

Principal Investigator (Abbreviation used in dataset: Laboratory name)

Aaron Roberts (UNT: University of North Texas)

Aswani Volety (FGCU: Florida Gulf Coast University, University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Barbara Block (Hopkins: Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University)

Carys Mitchelmore (UMD: University of Maryland)

Dana Wetzel (Mote: Mote Marine Laboratory)

Edward Chesney (LUMCON: Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium)

Joe Griffitt (GCRL: Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi)

Fernando Galvez (LSU: Louisiana State University)

James Stoeckel (Auburn: Auburn University)

Jim Oris (MUO: Miami University)

John Incardona (NWFSC: Northwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA)

Martin Grosell (RSMAS: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami)

Peter Ralph (Marin: Marin Biologic Laboratories)

Scott Ogle (PER: Pacific EcoRisk)

Guilherme Lotufo (USACE: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Jeff Morris (Stratus: Abt Associates (formerly Stratus Consulting Inc.))