When Microplastic Is Not Plastic: The Ingestion of Artificial Cellulose Fibers by Macrofauna Living in Seagrass Macrophytodetritus

Dead leaves of the Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, in the Mediterranean coastal zone, are colonized by an abundant “detritivorous” invertebrate community that is heavily predated by fishes. This community was sampled in August 2011, November 2011, and March 2012 at two different sites in the Calvi Bay (Corsica). Ingested artificial fibers (AFs) of various sizes and colors were found in 27.6% of the digestive tracts of the nine dominant species regardless of their trophic level or taxon. No seasonal, spatial, size, or species-specific significant differences were revealed; suggesting that invertebrates ingest AFs at constant rates. Results showed that, in the gut contents of invertebrates, varying by trophic level, and across trophic levels, the overall ingestion of AFs was low (approximately 1 fiber per organism). Raman spectroscopy revealed that the ingested AFs were composed of viscose, an artificial, cellulose-based polymer. (…)

François Remy, France Collard, Bernard Gilbert, Philippe Compère, Gauthier Eppe, and Gilles Lepoint, Environ. Sci. Technol.,49 (18), pp 11158–11166, 2015
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