Microplastic Transfer in Marine Food webs

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Plastic debris, a large component of marine litter, is ubiquitous in the marine environment and internationally recognized as a matter of increasing concern. There is potential for microplastic and its associated contaminants to enter marine food webs via a variety of pathways. Both planktonic and benthic marine invertebrates with a range of feeding methods have been shown to be able to ingest microplastics including: filter feeders (copepods, mussels and barnacles), deposit feeders (lugworms) and detritivores (amphipods, sea cucumbers). In situ work has also discovered microplastic ingestion in several vertebrate species. More and more species are now known to be affected, including some considered threatened. Further, MPs have demonstrated a capacity to adsorb to organisms such as marine algal cells. However, at present we know little about what affects the uptake of microplastics by marine organisms, and there are uncertainties about whether the plastics ingested at one trophic level can be transferred to higher trophic levels. Most knowledge is based on laboratory work, and field empirical data on the distribution and accumulation of microplastics in the food webs are limited. In this thesis, you will execute experiments that quantify accumulation of microplastics in food webs and determine the factors affecting the ingestion of microplastics in marine organisms, e.g. size, shape, colour and colonization of microbial communities.
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
contact person last name: 
Van Colen
Reference Number: RP-39891