A team of researchers with the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found an example of environmental microplastics disrupting a predator-prey relationship. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes their study of the impact of microplastic consumption on the common periwinkle and what they found.
The researchers note that to date, many studies have been done to better understand what happens to living creatures when they consume microplastics—but little work has been done to better understand what happens to the relationship between predators and prey when microplastics are introduced into the environment.
Periwinkles are a kind of shellfish, or more precisely, a sea snail. They spend their time perched on algae-covered rocks grazing on the algae. They are considered a keystone creature because of the role they play as prey for other creatures, mainly crabs. Periwinkles are also consumed by humans. In this new effort, the researchers wondered what might happen to periwinkles that consume algae that has itself absorbed microplastics. Prior research has shown that when algae absorb microplastics, they also absorb hazardous chemicals and metals.
Photo: Brian Yurasits
Sign up today and take the pledge to help save our world's oceans by visiting us at:www.theterramarproject.org