Featured Projects, Winter 2016 – Microplastics in the Great Lakes

“Towards establishing a long-term multidisciplinary research platform to assess the impact of microplastics on Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystem health”

Key components of this work have included:

  • Conducting extensive field surveys in summer 2014, including areas near urban areas and downstream of wastewater treatment facilities, to understand the distribution of microplastics in the Great Lakes system;
  • Developing new methods to quantify, or count, plastics in field samples;
  • Improving circulation models to better understand how plastics are transported through the system;
  • Analyzing fish stomach contents to understand the degree of plastic ingestion including particles and fibers (e.g., micro-fleece) in key organisms;
  • Analyzing plastic-associated toxins, to assess potential ecological and environmental health risks from leaching pollutants; and
  • Exploring dynamics of plastic-dwelling microbial communities to understand their potential role in breaking down plastic particles.

Project leaders: Melissa Duhaime (duhaimem@umich.edu) Krista Rule Wigginton, University of Michigan, Dmitry Beletsky, University of Michigan, Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research

More information about this project here.

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