Species-specific plastic accumulation in the sediment and canopy of coastal vegetated habitats

Catégorie : Détection et Caractérisation
Date :16 juin 2020
Cozzolino, Lorenzo; Nicastro, Katy R.; Zardi, Gerardo I.; Los Santos, Carmen B. de.
The Science of the total environment : 723, 138018.
Plastic waste has become ubiquitous in ecosystems worldwide. Few, recent studies report evidence of coastal vegetated habitats acting as sink for plastics, yet assessments have been completed either for macro or microplastics and focussing on just one type of vegetated habitat. Here, we investigated the role of marine coastal vegetated habitats as sinks for macro (≥5 mm) and microplastics (<5 mm) through a comprehensive, multi-habitat approach. We assessed the occurrence, abundance and physical properties of macro and microplastics in the canopy and superficial sediment of two intertidal (seagrass Zostera noltei, saltmarsh Sporobolus maritimus) and two subtidal (mixed seagrass meadows of Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera marina, rhizophytic macroalga Caulerpa prolifera) habitats in the Ria Formosa lagoon (Portugal). Our results showed that coastal vegetated habitats trapped macro and microplastics in the sediment at variable degrees (1.3-17.3 macroplastics 100 m-2, and 18.2-35.2 microplastics kg-1). Macroplastics accumulated in all vegetated habitat but not in nearby unvegetated areas, yet only S. maritimus habitat presented a significant trapping effect. Microplastics occurred in the sediment of all vegetated and unvegetated areas with similar abundances and high variability. Microplastics, all of type fibre, were recorded on all canopies except for S. maritimus. Overall, the trapping capacity of microplastics in the sediment and on the canopy was higher for subtidal than for intertidal vegetated habitats. We conclude that generalizations in the trapping effect of coastal vegetated areas should be done with caution, since it may be highly variable and may depend on the plastic size, habitat and tidal position. Since these habitats support a high biodiversity, they should be included in assessments of plastic debris accumulation and impacts in coastal areas. Further research, including experimental studies, is needed to shed more light on the role of coastal vegetated habitats as plastic sinks.