Microplastics such as pellets have been reported for many years on sandy beaches around the globe. Nevertheless, high variability is observed in their estimates and distribution patterns across the beach environment are still to be unravelled. Here, we investigate the small-scale temporal and spatial variability in the abundance of pellets in the intertidal zone of a sandy beach and evaluate factors that can increase the variability in data sets. The abundance of pellets was estimated during twelve consecutive tidal cycles, identifying the position of the high tide between cycles and sampling drift-lines across the intertidal zone. We demonstrate that beach dynamic processes such as the overlap of strandlines and artefacts of the methods can increase the small-scale variability. The results obtained are discussed in terms of the methodological considerations needed to understand the distribution of pellets in the beach environment, with special implications for studies focused on patterns of input.
Fabiana Tavares Moreira, Alessandro Lívio Prantoni, Bruno Martini and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 102, Issue 1, Pages 114–121, 15 January 2016