ICES/PICES 6th Zooplankton Production Symposium

Effects of microplastics on zooplankton

Elaine Fileman (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK) Maiju Lehtiniemi (Baltic Nest Institute, Finland)

Invited speaker:
Pennie Lindeque (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK)​

Microscopic plastic debris termed 'microplastics' (plastic particles or fibres < 5 mm in size) have been accumulating in the oceans over the past few decades. Their increased widespread occurrence corresponds to growth in the manufacture of plastic materials and include sources such as cosmetic exfoliates, polyester fibres from fabrics, polyethylene fragments from plastic bags, and other larger plastic items. Since microplastics occupy the same size range as many planktonic organisms they can easily be mistaken for food and thus may affect a wide range of marine organisms, including zooplankton. The few studies carried out to date have shown microplastics to be ingested by, for example, ciliates, cladocerans, copepods, mysids, small fish, and even whales, and that ingestion of microplastics may result in reduced feeding, energetic deficiencies, injury, or death.

The purpose of this workshop is to assess the risk posed to zooplankton by microplastics in the marine environment. We are interested in contributions related to the following topics:

  • Susceptibility of zooplankton with different feeding modes to microplastic ingestion
  • Trophic transfer of microplastics
  • How microplastics affect zooplankton interaction with predators and prey
  • Microplastics as a new pelagic habitat for zooplankton; Transport into new areas by 'plastic rafting'
  • Effects of microplastics on reproduction and physiology of zooplankton
  • Toxicity effects of microplastics on zooplankton
  • Spatial overlap of microplastics and zooplankton​

This workshop will report on current research through a series of short presentations followed by group discussion to identify gaps in our knowledge and suggest areas for future research.​​

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Effects of microplastics on zooplankton

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