A fundamental understanding of the impact of petrochemicals and other stressors on marine biodiversity is critical for effective management, restoration, recovery, and mitigation initiatives. As species-specific information on levels of petrochemical exposure and toxicological response are lacking for the majority of marine species, a trait-based assessment to rank species vulnerabilities to petrochemical activities in the Gulf of Mexico can provide a more comprehensive and effective means to prioritize species, habitats, and ecosystems for improved management, restoration and recovery. To initiate and standardize this process, we developed a trait-based framework, applicable to a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate species, that can be used to rank relative population vulnerabilities of species to petrochemical activities in the Gulf of Mexico. Through expert consultation, 18 traits related to likelihood of exposure, individual sensitivity, and population resilience were identified and defined. The resulting multi-taxonomic petrochemical vulnerability framework can be adapted and applied to a wide variety of species groups and geographic regions. Additional recommendations and guidance on the application of the framework to rank species vulnerabilities under specific petrochemical exposure scenarios, management needs or data limitations are also discussed.

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