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SFS Annual Meeting

Thursday, June 6, 2024
10:30 - 12:00

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S16 Trash Talk: Ecology of Anthropogenic Materials in Freshwaters
&
S26 Transport and Bioaccumulation of Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems

10:30 - 10:45 | Independence Ballroom C | PLASTICS PARADOX

6/06/2024  |   10:30 - 10:45   |  Independence Ballroom C

Plastics Paradox Plastic provides a real paradox in the world of material science. It is incredibly strong but without the mass that similar strength materials usually possess. In addition, it is very moldable so that you can contort it into a myriad of common place, super-utilitarian items. The versatility and durability of plastic allow it to be used in place of a myriad of natural materials, but these same features make it an environmental bane. Much attention has been paid to plastic as an oceans issue, but increasingly we are finding that plastic flows through freshwater systems on its way from land to sea. Here we will explore the paradox of plastic and what it means for the waters we love so much.

Sherri Mason (Primary Presenter/Author), Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, sam7201@psu.edu;

10:45 - 11:00 | Independence Ballroom C | PLASTICS PARADOX

6/06/2024  |   10:45 - 11:00   |  Independence Ballroom C

Plastics Paradox Plastic provides a real paradox in the world of material science. It is incredibly strong but without the mass that similar strength materials usually possess. In addition, it is very moldable so that you can contort it into a myriad of common place, super-utilitarian items. The versatility and durability of plastic allow it to be used in place of a myriad of natural materials, but these same features make it an environmental bane. Much attention has been paid to plastic as an oceans issue, but increasingly we are finding that plastic flows through freshwater systems on its way from land to sea. Here we will explore the paradox of plastic and what it means for the waters we love so much.

Sherri Mason (Primary Presenter/Author), Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, sam7201@psu.edu;

11:00 - 11:15 | Independence Ballroom C | QUANTIFICATION AND ISOLATION OF MICROPLASTICS AND MICROPLASTIC RESIDING BACTERIA IN THE BLUE MARSH WATERSHED IN READING, PENNSYLVANIA

6/06/2024  |   11:00 - 11:15   |  Independence Ballroom C

Quantification and Isolation of Microplastics and Microplastic Residing Bacteria in the Blue Marsh Watershed in Reading, Pennsylvania Anthropogenic activities have deposited significant pollutants in and around global waterways. Millions of manufactured plastic products composed of various chemical composites degrade into microscopic pieces known as microplastics. Microplastics within waterways significantly impact aquatic ecosystems, including habitat contamination and the bioaccumulation of plastic in aquatic life. Along with the impact that microplastics have on the aquatic environment, they also have a negative influence on human health. Microplastics have been shown to cause harm to mammalian gastrointestinal tracts, behave as endocrine disruptors, and influence metabolic oxidative stress. Microplastic particles in waterways may also serve as transportation systems for microbial pathogens potentially posing unexplored health implications locally and for populations downstream. This study assessed the presence of microplastics and analyzed bacteria residing on microplastics from Blue Marsh Lake, a tributary to the Schuylkill River, which flows into the Delaware River Watershed. This watershed serves as an essential source of drinking water for Philadelphia residents. Water samples were collected using a modified version of the NOAA microplastic collection protocol at a shore location adjacent to a recreational swimming area. Quantitation of dried samples revealed locally elevated levels of microplastics in Blue Marsh Lake (51% fibers, 46% nurdles, and 3% fragments). These levels suggest the drinking water quality in the Philadelphia area may be negatively impacted. Composite testing of particles is underway using FT-IR analysis. Microbial populations residing on the microplastics are also being examined to determine if potential pathogens transported via ‘microplastic hitchhiking’ can spread antibiotic resistance along the waterway.

Tami Mysliwiec (Primary Presenter/Author), Penn State Berks, thm2@psu.edu;

Vinh Lu (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Penn State Berks, qvl5177@psu.edu;

Jill Felker (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Penn State Berks, jmg240@psu.edu;

11:15 - 11:30 | Independence Ballroom C | DOWNSTREAM DILEMMA: NAVIGATING MICROPLASTICS' IMPACT ON FRESHWATER SYMBIOSIS IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

6/06/2024  |   11:15 - 11:30   |  Independence Ballroom C

Downstream Dilemma: Navigating Microplastics' Impact on Freshwater Symbiosis in the Anthropocene Annually, it is estimated that between 1.13 to 2.24 metric tons of plastic waste is either mismanaged or littered within the United States, bypassing waste management practices. This mismanagement catalyzes the spread of plastic debris in the environment, which then undergoes natural degradation and fragmentation processes. This results in the proliferation of minuscule plastic particles known as microplastics. Despite the ubiquity of this contaminant, concern for freshwater habitats have increased due to their proximity to anthropogenic sources. The aim of this experiment was to elucidate the impact of microplastic pollution on freshwater ecosystems, particularly in the context of symbiosis. To assess this issue, we conducted mesocosm-based exposure-response assays, exposing crayfish to microplastics of fibrous, microsphere, and tire wear particle morphologies while varying symbiont densities. We utilized crayfish as our host, due to their influential role as ecosystem engineers and keystone species. The crayfish C. appalachiensis, common in the Virginia New River Basin, served as hosts to obligate ectosymbiotic annelids, known as Branchiobdellidans. Previous research, utilizing the crayfish-branchiobdellidan symbiosis demonstrated mutualistic benefits of increased growth rate, reproduction, and even resiliency when exposed to environmental stressors. With this in mind, we observed the effects of a 172-day chronic exposure toxicity assay on the crayfish-branchiobdellidan symbiosis. Replicates exposed to microplastics experienced decreased biomass development compared to the control, and increased antagonistic behaviors, such as gill tissue consumption. Our results hallmark a remarkable shift in symbiotic context from mutualism to parasitism, when exposed to microplastics.

Cameron Braswell (Primary Presenter/Author), Virginia Tech, camman@vt.edu;

Cameron Lockett (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Virginia Tech, clockett25@vt.edu;

Austin Gray (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Virginia Tech, austindg@vt.edu;

Robert Creed (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Appalachian State Universtiy, creedrp@appstate.edu;

Bryan Brown (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Virginia Tech, stonefly@vt.edu;

11:30 - 11:45 | Independence Ballroom C | BIVALVES AS INDICATORS OF MICROPLASTIC CONTAMINATION IN FRESHWATER STREAMS

6/06/2024  |   11:30 - 11:45   |  Independence Ballroom C

BIVALVES AS INDICATORS OF MICROPLASTIC CONTAMINATION IN FRESHWATER STREAMS Bivalves remove large quantities of particles, including microplastics (MPs), from the water column together filtering millions of gallons of stream water per day. MPs, plastic polymers less than 5 mm in length, are a contaminant of emerging concern that have been shown to accumulate via both ingestion and adherence mechanisms in bivalve mollusks, including clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops. Of the bivalve types, clams and mussels exhibit the highest tendency for MP accumulation per gram of tissue and are regarded as valuable bioindicators for monitoring MP pollution in the surrounding water and sediment. However significant knowledge gaps remain regarding MP sources, fate, transport, and accumulation, in freshwater streams and bivalves. The objective of this study is to investigate the potential of freshwater mussels and invasive clams to be effective biological indicators for microplastic pollution, even with limited sample sizes (n < 10 per location). E. dilatata, A. ligamentinaas, and C. fluminea freshwater mussels and invasive clams, water, and sediment were sampled for MPs along two sub-watersheds and the upper main stem of the Allegheny River Basin in Pennsylvania. Extraction methods include KOH tissue digestion and NaCl sediment density separation. Counting was done via visual microscopy using Nile red staining. Spatial relationships modeled using ArcGIS Pro and R include parameters such as proximity of sample location to wastewater treatment discharges, watershed land cover and use, topographic complexity, and specie specific parameters such as size, abundance, fat content, burrow depth, and filtration capacity.

Katharina Pankratz (Primary Presenter/Author), Pennsylvania State University, kpp5454@psu.edu;

Nathaniel Warner (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Pennsylvania State University, nrw6@psu.edu;

11:45 - 12:00 | Independence Ballroom C | HOW MUCH PLASTIC IS NEEDED TO CHANGE RIVERBED SEDIMENT TRANSPORT PROCESSES?

6/06/2024  |   11:45 - 12:00   |  Independence Ballroom C

How much plastic is needed to change riverbed sediment transport processes? Plastic particles of different sizes have made their way into every single location where researchers have gone looking for them. In riverbeds, plastic particles with higher density than water interact with the bed and alter the natural sediment transport processes. In this contribution, we describe two experimental campaigns conducted in the laboratory to quantify the magnitude of the disruption that plastics cause and the minimum amount of plastic pollution needed to change natural riverbed processes. In one set of experiments, we added a mixture of plastics typically found in urban streams and in the second set, we added only Mardi Gras beads. Our experiments show that small concentrations of plastic can significantly alter riverbed morphodynamics, and change the typical shape of riverbed dunes. Locally, plastic pollution creates a shift from near-bed sediment transport to suspended sediment load, which could increase turbidity. These local changes might have wider reaching effects in the landscape and the ecosystems that rely on it. Additionally, plastic particles might get buried in different patterns that must be taken into account for sampling campaigns to avoid misrepresenting the quantities found in different settings.

Roberto Fernández (Primary Presenter/Author), Penn State University, roberto@psu.edu;

Catherine Russell (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Leicester, cr295@leicester.ac.uk;