Microplastics Affect the Ecological Functioning of an Important Biogenic Habitat

Dannielle Senga Green, Bas Boots, Nessa E. O'Connor, Richard Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)

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 hypothesized 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Volume51
Issue number1
Early online date12 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Microplastics Affect the Ecological Functioning of an Important Biogenic Habitat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this