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SFS Annual Meeting

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THE ROLE OF SUBSTRATE, DISCHARGE, AND BIOFILM GROWTH ON THE TRANSPORT AND RETENTION OF MICROPLASTIC FIBERS IN STREAMS

Microplastics (< 5mm) represent emerging aquatic pollutants and are of increasing concern in freshwater ecosystems globally. Microplastics adsorb harmful chemicals, enter aquatic food webs, and persist in the environment. Research on microplastic transport in lotic ecosystems is needed to understand the role streams and rivers play in plastic’s movement across the landscape. We used spiraling metrics designed to measure organic matter retention and transport to quantify microplastic deposition in the replicated experimental streams at the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF). We explored the influence of benthic substrate (cobble, pea-gravel, sand, and mixed), stream discharge (high vs. low), and benthic biofilm colonization (late successional community and after scouring) in a fully-crossed design. We released pulses of microplastic fibers, which are the most common microplastic found in streams, and collected synchronized samples at three locations downstream. After filtering, we counted fibers under a dissecting microscope. We predict the depositional velocity of fibers will be lower with high discharge, low biofilm, and larger substrate size. Our goal is to quantify factors that drive microplastic retention in streams, thereby parameterizing models which can scale depositional patterns to larger downstream rivers.

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


Arial Shogren (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Notre Dame, ashogren@nd.edu;


Martha Dee (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Notre Dame, mdee@nd.edu;


Jennifer L. Tank (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Notre Dame, tank.1@nd.edu;


John Kelly (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Loyola University Chicago, Jkelly7@luc.edu;


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


Elizabeth Berg (Primary Presenter/Author), Loyola University Chicago, eberg@luc.edu;