Spatiotemporal variation in microplastic contamination along a subtropical reservoir shoreline

Rendani Mbedzi, Ross N. Cuthbert, Ryan J. Wasserman, Florence M. Murungweni, Tatenda Dalu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics have become a major environmental concern globally due to their potential impact on ecosystem function. They are known to be ubiquitously present, persistent and bio-accumulative, yet there is a lack of abundance quantifications in freshwater shorelines. Furthermore, there is little understanding of combined effects of seasonality and human population density on the extent of microplastic pollution. In this study, we assessed microplastics in sediment along a subtropical reservoir shoreline across three seasons and seven sites to understand microplastic pollution dynamics along a human population gradient. Multivariable analysis was used to assess relationships among substrate embeddedness, sediment organic matter, human population density and microplastic particle densities and characteristics. Microplastic densities were relatively high during the hot–dry season (mean range 120–6417 particles kg−1 dwt) whilst the hot–wet season had the lowest densities (mean range 5–94 particles kg−1 dwt). Microplastic abundances were positively correlated with population density, demonstrating the direct effects of human activity on microplastic contamination. These results highlight the need to further explore microplastic distribution patterns in freshwater ecosystems in the Southern Hemisphere. Furthermore, our findings suggest particular risk for fauna during low rainfall periods through microplastic concentration effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23880-23887
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number19
Early online date16 Apr 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 16 Apr 2020


  • Contamination
  • Freshwater ecosystem
  • Freshwater pollution
  • Microbeads
  • Microplastics
  • Nandoni reservoir


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatiotemporal variation in microplastic contamination along a subtropical reservoir shoreline'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this