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ABUNDANCE AND ACCUMULATION OF ANTHROPOGENIC LITTER ON GREAT LAKES BEACHES

Anthropogenic litter (i.e., trash; AL) is well documented in oceans, but studies on AL’s spatial and temporal dynamics in freshwaters are rare. This project had two components. First, we used citizen-science data to quantify AL density and seasonality on 9 beaches throughout the Great Lakes that varied by substrate type. AL data was generated by the Alliance for the Great Lake’s Adopt-a-Beach program. We categorized AL by function (i.e., smoking, fishing) and density (No. per area), and compared among seasons, beaches, and to common beach descriptors. AL density was highest on urban, sandy, unmaintained beaches in fall, suggesting visitor littering as a primary source. The second project focused on 1 beach Lake Michigan beach. We used 4 permanent transects, spaced from the water’s edge inland, where each transect had 4 habitats (e.g., vegetation, path). Biweekly AL collection was used to quantify spatial and temporal variation in AL, and annual net input. Results also suggested that beach visitors are a primary AL source and that AL accumulates with natural debris. Overall, these data will inform new AL prevention and management policies.

Anna Vincent (Primary Presenter/Author), Loyola University Chicago, avincent1@luc.edu;


Timothy Hoellein ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Loyola University Chicago, thoellein@luc.edu;