Benthic fauna contribute to microplastic sequestration in coastal sediments

Coppock, RL; Lindeque, PK; Cole, MJ; Galloway, TS; Näkki, P; Birgani, H; Richards, S; Queiros, AM. 2021 Benthic fauna contribute to microplastic sequestration in coastal sediments. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 415. 125583. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125583

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125583

Abstract/Summary

Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment, however, the mechanisms governing their uptake by, and burial within, seabed habitats are poorly understood. In this study, microplastic burial and its impact on fauna-mediated sedimentary processes was quantified at three coastal sites, and the potential contribution of burrowing faunal communities to this process assessed via functional trait diversity analysis of field data. In addition, laboratory exposures were used to assess whether sediment-processing undertaken by the brittlestar Amphiura filiformis, a key species in the sampled area, could explain the burial of microplastic fibres. Field ob�servations confirmed broad-scale burial of microplastics across the coastal seabed, consistent across sites and seasons, with microplastic sequestration linked to benthic-pelagic exchange pathways, driven by burrowing fauna. Brittlestars were observed to bury and line their burrow walls with microfibres during experiments, and their burial activity was also modified following exposure to nylon fibres, relative to controls. Collectively, these results indicate that biodiverse and functionally important seabed habitats act as microplastic sinks, with burrowing fauna contributing to this process via well-known benthic-pelagic pathways, the rates of which are modified by plastic exposure.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Marine pollution Benthos Bioturbation Burial Microplastic fate
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > Western Channel Observatory
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 11 May 2021 14:02
Last Modified: 25 May 2021 12:15
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/9208

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