Assessment of microplastic bioconcentration, bioaccumulation and biomagnification in a simple coral reef food web

Miller, Michaela E., Motti, Cherie A., Hamann, Mark, and Kroon, Frederieke J. (2023) Assessment of microplastic bioconcentration, bioaccumulation and biomagnification in a simple coral reef food web. Science of the Total Environment, 858. 159615.

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Plastics, and more specifically, microplastics (MPs, <5 mm) are considered a marine contaminant of emerging concern. To accurately assess the ecological risk of MPs, it is critical to first understand the relationship between MP contamination in organisms with that in their surrounding environment. The goal of this study was to examine the ecological risk of MPs in coral reef ecosystems by assessing the MP contamination found within a simple food web against contamination in the surrounding environment. Taxa representing three trophic levels (zooplankton, benthic crustaceans, and reef fish), as well as the distinct environmental matrices which they inhabit (i.e., mid-column water and sediment) were collected from two mid-shelf reefs in the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Microplastics were isolated using validated clarification techniques, visually characterised (i.e., shape, colour, size) by microscopy, chemically confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and recorded in all three trophic levels and all abiotic samples. MPs were found to bioconcentrate, with similar concentrations, polymer types, sizes, shapes, and colours at each trophic level compared to their surrounding environment. However, MP contamination varied across the three trophic levels, with no evidence of bioaccumulation. Further, MP concentrations did not increase up the food web, discounting MP biomagnification. Regardless, given the heterogeneity of MPs found in the marine environment, and the complexity of marine food webs, trophic transfer represents a prominent pathway of exposure from lower to higher trophic levels.

Item ID: 78438
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-1026
Keywords: Crustaceans, Fish, Plastic pollution, Trophic levels, Zooplankton
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Copyright Information: © 2022 Published by Elsevier B.V
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2023 03:04
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 70%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4105 Pollution and contamination > 410599 Pollution and contamination not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 100%
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