Microplastics affect the ecological functioning of an important biogenic habitat

Green, Dannielle S. and Boots, Bas and O'Connor, Nessa E. and Thompson, Richard C. (2016) Microplastics affect the ecological functioning of an important biogenic habitat. Environmental Science and Technology, 51 (1). pp. 68-77. (Accepted)

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b04496

Abstract

Biological effects of microplastics on the health of bivalves have been demonstrated elsewhere, but ecological impacts on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of bivalve-dominated habitats are unknown. Thus, we exposed intact sediment cores containing European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis) or blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) in seawater to two different densities (2.5 or 25 µg L-1) of biodegradable or conventional microplastics in outdoor mesocosms. We hypothesised that filtration rates of the bivalves, inorganic nitrogen cycling, primary productivity of sediment dwelling microphytobenthos, and the structure of invertebrate benthic assemblages would be influenced by microplastics. After 50 days, filtration by M. edulis was significantly less when exposed to 25 µg L-1 of either type of microplastics, but there were no effects on ecosystem functioning or the associated invertebrate assemblages. Contrastingly, filtration by O. edulis significantly increased when exposed to 2.5 or 25 µg L-1 of microplastics, and porewater ammonium and biomass of benthic cyanobacteria decreased. Additionally the associated infaunal invertebrate assemblages differed, with significantly less polychaetes and more oligochaetes in treatments exposed to microplastics. These findings highlight the potential of microplastics to impact the functioning and structure of sedimentary habitats and show that such effects may depend on the dominant bivalve present.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a published work that appeared in final form in 'Environmental Science & Technology' [copyright © American Chemical Society] after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b04496
Keywords: Plastic pollution, Environmental impact, Microplastics
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Dr Dannielle S Green
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2016 15:11
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2017 14:28
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/701274

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