Microplastic exposure and uptake by juvenile white seabream Diplodus sargus (Linnaeus, 1758) in a coastal lagoon nursery ground

, Müller Carolin, Erzini Karim, Cruz Joana, Dudeck Tim, Santos Corona Luana, Abrunhosa Felipe Eloy, Afonso Carlos Manuel Lourenço, Mateus Miguel Ângelo Franco, Monteiro Pedro, Ekau Werner.

Estuaries and lagoons are vital nursery grounds for a variety of commercially important fish species, yet these essential habitats lie at the gateway of plastic pollution to the global oceans. Due to their size range (¡ 5mm), microplastic (MP) fibres and fragments entail a high bioavailability for a wide range of organisms at the base of the marine food web, among them early life stages (ELS) of fish, representing the bottleneck of population development. As ELS of seabream show a high site fidelity within their nurseries, it is hypothesized that they encounter a gradient of habitat quality and MP pollution across small spatial scales, potentially allowing for MP ingestion at an early developmental stage and consequent physiological implications. Though the number of published studies on MP ingestion across various fish taxa continuously increases, more emphasis needs to be devoted to in-depth research on the contextualization of MP ingestion as well as on the potential negative effects of these pollutants on ELS of individual species in coastal environments. Thus, the aim of this field study was to investigate differences in fish growth and condition of juvenile white seabream Diplodus sargus in the Ria Formosa lagoon (Southern Portugal) along spatial gradients of prey availability, habitat quality and MP pollution. The analyses of samples are currently underway; preliminary results however suggest rather low MP uptake rates despite an omnivorous, opportunistic feeding mode of juvenile white seabream. Further analyses are expected to shed light on the potential existence of a spatial gradient in MP abundance as well as on the bioavailability of MP in relation to natural prey items. The selectivity of juvenile seabream towards MP as an artificial prey will be determined and potential physiological impacts of MP exposure and uptake will be assessed.

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