Benthic fauna contribute to microplastic sequestration in coastal sediments

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Title: Benthic fauna contribute to microplastic sequestration in coastal sediments
Author: Coppock, Rachel L.; Lindeque, Penelope K.; Cole, Matthew; Galloway, Tamara S.; Nakki, Pinja; Birgani, Hannah; Richards, Saskiya; Queirós, Ana M.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: 2021
Language: en
Belongs to series: Journal of Hazardous Materials 415: 125583
ISSN: 0304-3894
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/331930
Abstract: 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 observations 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.
Description: Highlights • Microplastic burial in coastal sediments were investigated in field and laboratory. • Functional trait analyses reveal burial is rooted in wider benthic-pelagic pathways. • The cumulative effect of macrofauna communities was net burial of microplastics. • Brittlestars ingested and buried nylon fibres and bioturbation activity was reduced.
Subject: marine pollution
benthos
bioturbation
burial
microplastic fate
responses
sea
small-scale
echinodermata
reworking
Arenicola marina
biodiversity
Ophiuroidea
English Channel
Subject (ysa): meret
sedimentit
pohjaeläimistö
meriensuojelu
mikroroskat
muovit
rannikot
saastuminen
käärmetähdet
Englannin kanaali


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