Presenter Information

Robert BeckFollow

Presentation Title

Project proposal: Microplastic Effects to Anthopleura elegantissima

Presentation Type

Lightning Session

Abstract

Plastic pollution is a growing global problem. Plastic debris is so common, geologists have characterized a new type of rock, plastiglomerate, and propose its inclusion in future records as an anthropogenic marker for our current epoch. Marine plastic debris is found accumulating in all oceans, from the deep sea to Arctic ice and Antarctic sediments. The Salish Sea, a large and complex fjord estuary receives waters impacted by an estimated 8 million people aggregated in several large scale urban and industrial centers. It is estimated that a one-meter band of beach wrack along the Salish Sea contains 5.8 metric tons of plastic. A contaminant of emerging concern, microplastics defined as plastic particles less than 5 mm are of particular concern because they are easily digested and bio-accumulated through trophic levels. The aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima is a dominant intertidal species along the west coast of North America that contributes significantly to the energetics of the communities where it is found. Like tropical corals, A. elegantisima forms a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae. Available data suggests a vulnerability of the anemone to microplastics which exists at the same size class as opportunistically ingested food items eaten by A. elegantissima. This ingested plastic has the potential to affect the anemone and its algal symbiont. Our goal is to test how A. elegantissima respond to microplastic by first establishing a baseline to determine how frequently A. elegantissima in the Salish Sea are consuming microplastics, then by using laboratory experiments, to document impacts to anemone heterotrophic feeding and symbiont photosynthetic performance.

Start Date

10-5-2018 3:35 PM

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May 10th, 3:35 PM

Project proposal: Microplastic Effects to Anthopleura elegantissima

Plastic pollution is a growing global problem. Plastic debris is so common, geologists have characterized a new type of rock, plastiglomerate, and propose its inclusion in future records as an anthropogenic marker for our current epoch. Marine plastic debris is found accumulating in all oceans, from the deep sea to Arctic ice and Antarctic sediments. The Salish Sea, a large and complex fjord estuary receives waters impacted by an estimated 8 million people aggregated in several large scale urban and industrial centers. It is estimated that a one-meter band of beach wrack along the Salish Sea contains 5.8 metric tons of plastic. A contaminant of emerging concern, microplastics defined as plastic particles less than 5 mm are of particular concern because they are easily digested and bio-accumulated through trophic levels. The aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima is a dominant intertidal species along the west coast of North America that contributes significantly to the energetics of the communities where it is found. Like tropical corals, A. elegantisima forms a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae. Available data suggests a vulnerability of the anemone to microplastics which exists at the same size class as opportunistically ingested food items eaten by A. elegantissima. This ingested plastic has the potential to affect the anemone and its algal symbiont. Our goal is to test how A. elegantissima respond to microplastic by first establishing a baseline to determine how frequently A. elegantissima in the Salish Sea are consuming microplastics, then by using laboratory experiments, to document impacts to anemone heterotrophic feeding and symbiont photosynthetic performance.