Scientists have learned over the years that when aquatic organisms such as zooplankton become exposed to microplastics, they eat poorly.
Scientists have learned over the years that when aquatic organisms such as zooplankton become exposed to microplastics, they eat poorly. Research at Purdue University now shows that their plastic-induced eating difficulties also limit the ability of zooplankton to control algal proliferation.
“If the control of algae by zooplankton is confounded by the presence of microplastics, that could be a cause for concern,” said Tomas Höök, professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue.
When algae bloom out of control, this presents a problem because some species produce toxins. Also, algal blooms can be associated with pea-soupy, unattractive bodies of water and contribute to hypoxia, a low-oxygen condition that may lead to fish kills.
Zooplankton are tiny creatures that live in watery environments and form the base of the food web in many aquatic environments. The organisms examined for the study were two common types of crustaceous zooplankton that differ in size and feeding behavior.
Read more at Purdue University
Image: Tomas Höök is a professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue University and director of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program. (Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)