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Microplastic ingestion by riverine macroinvertebrates

Windsor, Fredric, Tilley, Rose-Marie, Tyler, Charles R and Ormerod, Stephen 2019. Microplastic ingestion by riverine macroinvertebrates. Science of the Total Environment 646 , pp. 68-74. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.271

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Abstract

Although microplastics are a recognised pollutant in marine environments, less attention has been directed towards freshwater ecosystems despite their greater proximity to possible plastic sources. Here, we quantify the presence of microplastic particles (MPs) in river organisms upstream and downstream of five UK Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTWs). MPs were identified in approximately 50% of macroinvertebrate samples collected (Baetidae, Heptageniidae and Hydropsychidae) at concentrations up to 0.14 MP mg tissue−1 and they occurred at all sites. MP abundance was associated with macroinvertebrate biomass and taxonomic family, but MPs occurred independently of feeding guild and biological traits such as habitat affinity and ecological niche. There was no increase in plastic ingestion downstream of WwTW discharges averaged across sites, but MP abundance in macroinvertebrates marginally increased where effluent discharges contributed more to total runoff and declined with increasing river discharge. The ubiquity of microplastics within macroinvertebrates in this case study reveals a potential risk from MPs entering riverine food webs through at least two pathways, involving detritivory and filter-feeding, and we recommend closer attention to freshwater ecosystems in future research.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0048-9697
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 July 2018
Date of Acceptance: 19 July 2018
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2019 09:22
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/113345

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