25 Nov 2020
CLAIM conducts the first report on the indirect microplastic trophic transfer in a simplified food chain
An intriguing research article, conducted by CLAIM’s team of international experts, is now available in the Frontiers in Environmental Science Journal. The paper investigates the Trophic transfer of microplastics from copepods to jellyfish in the marine environment.
Microplastics (MPs) are considered to be easily ingested by marine organism directly or indirectly. Amongst the marine food web, copepods and gelatinous species, such as jellyfish, are reportedly proven to consume MPs. Deriving from those findings, CLAIM researchers along with members from the JPI-Oceans EPHEMARE project, have investigated the Microplastics trophic transfer by utilising a two-level trophic chain formed by nauplii of the Tigriopus fulvus and the ephyrae stage of Aurelia sp.
The example of jellyfish is being used due to the fact that the species are known to be rather vulnerable to plastic pollution, as the marine litter can be transferred through them. Consequently, the MPs may be confused for prey by the pelagic predators, resulting in a plastic transmission from a lower to higher trophic levels. Nonetheless, the authors claim that the current data on the topic is rather insufficient and limits the understanding of MPs potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification within the marine food chain.
The research findings show that the trophic transfer is an indirect pathway of MP ingestion for any species whose feeding involves the consumption of whole prey. Copepods are seen as a potential carrier of organic hydrocarbon compounds as they may incorporate a number of elements or toxic materials, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Jellyfish have also been proven to be able to transfer contaminants such as heavy metals and MPs through their gelatinous tissues.
Read the full research paper here.