Environment and gut morphology influence microplastic retention in langoustine, Nephrops norvegicus

Welden, N. and Cowie, P. R. (2016) Environment and gut morphology influence microplastic retention in langoustine, Nephrops norvegicus. Environmental Pollution, 214, pp. 859-865. (doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.03.067) (PMID:27161832)

121326.pdf - Accepted Version



Over the past twenty years microplastic pollution has been recorded in all major marine habitats, and is now considered to be of high environmental concern. Correspondingly, the number of reports of microplastic ingestion by marine species is increasing. Despite this, there are still relatively few studies which address the uptake and retention of microplastic in wild populations. Langoustine, Nephrops norvegicus, sampled from the Clyde Sea Area, have previously been seen to contain large aggregations of microplastic fibres. The large proportion of contaminated individuals and size of the microplastic aggregations observed suggests that Nephrops are at high risk of microplastic ingestion. In this study the levels of ingested microplastic in populations of N. norvegicus from the Clyde Sea Area, North Minch and North Sea are examined. Animals in the near-shore, Clyde Sea population showed both a higher percentage of microplastic containing individuals and much greater weights of microplastic retained in the gut. N. norvegicus revealed that only a small percentage of individuals from the North Sea and Minch contained microplastic, predominantly single strands. An expanded sample from the Clyde Sea Area was examined to identify the factors influencing microplastic retention. This revealed that males, larger individuals, and animals that had recently moulted contained lower levels of microplastic. The presence of identified food items in the gut was not seen to correlate with microplastic loads. Observations of microplastic in the shed stomach lining of recently moulted individuals and the lack of aggregations in wild-caught individuals suggests that ecdysis is the primary route of microplastic loss by N. norvegicus. Therefore the large aggregations observed in wild-caught animals are believed to build up over extended periods as a result of the complex gut structure of N. norvegicus.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Welden, Dr Natalie and Cowie, Dr Phillip
Authors: Welden, N., and Cowie, P. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Environmental Pollution
Published Online:07 May 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Environmental Pollution 214:859-865
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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