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Impacts of polystyrene microplastics on Daphnia magna: a laboratory and a mesocosm study

Al-Jaibachi, R., Laird, W. B., Stevens, F. and Callaghan, A. ORCID: (2020) Impacts of polystyrene microplastics on Daphnia magna: a laboratory and a mesocosm study. Science of the Total Environment, 705. 135800. ISSN 0048-9697

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135800


Most research into microplastics (MPs) in freshwaters has concentrated on measurements under controlled conditions without any link to the natural environment. Here we studied the effects of a 15 μm polystyrene MP on Daphnia magna survival, growth, and reproduction in the laboratory. We also exposed fifteen 25 L freshwater mesocosms to a high concentration of the same MPs. Five were controls seeded with five species found in all ponds (mosquito, water flea, midge, spire shell and water mite), five identical but treated with 15 μm polystyrene MPs and five seeded with only mosquitoes and water fleas. The laboratory chronic toxicity test for both adults and neonate Daphnia magna revealed that effects were more related to the availability of food rather than the toxicity of MPs. In the mesocosms most of the MPs settled in the sediment after the first week of exposure. After four weeks the D. magna population decreased significantly in the MP mesocosms compared to the control mesocosms, although it subsequently recovered. There was no impact on other organisms added to the mesocosms, other than a difference in timing of lesser water boatman (Corixa punctata) colonisation, which colonised the control mesocosms in week 4 and the treated 4 weeks later. The detrivorous, sediment sifting, mayfly Leptophlebia marginata appeared in mesocosms in the fourth week of sampling and with significantly higher numbers in the MP treated mesocosm. Their activity had no significant impact on MPs in the water column, although numbers did increase above zero. The significant decline of D. magna suggests that their effect in a natural situation is unpredictable where environmental conditions and invertebrate communities may add additional stresses.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:87683


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