Science

Studies show how plastics threaten the biodiversity of marine life

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A new study at Queen’s University highlights the impact of microplastics on hermit crabs. Hermit crabs play an important role in balancing marine ecosystems.


Research has found that microplastics influence hermit behavior crabThat is, their abilities during the Shell Fight Contest, which are essential to their survival.

There is a strong link between hermit crabs and their shelters or shells. These are taken from sea snails to protect the soft abdomen.As Hermit crab As it grows over the years, you need to find a series of larger and larger shells to replace the ones that have become too small.They can be achieved through this Contest, Called Shell Fight, where the “attacker” wraps the shell against the “defender” and tries to drive the opponent out of the shell. In these contests, hermit crabs will fight their competitors to secure their favorite shell. These shells are essential to protect and enable hermit crab growth, reproduction and survival.

The new study is based on a previous study by Queen’s University that showed that hermit crabs are less likely to touch or invade high-quality shells when exposed to microplastics.

New research published in Royal Society Open ScienceProvides more detailed insights into how hermit crab behavior is affected when exposed to microplastics. Microplastics impair both hermit crab offensive and defensive behavior during the contest, hampering their ability to secure the larger shells needed for both growth and survival.

In the study, hermit crabs were stored in two tanks. One contains polyethylene spheres (common microplastic contaminants) and the other contains no plastic (control) for 5 days. The team encouraged the hermit crab contest by simulating the environment and placing a pair of hermit crabs in the arena, giving large crabs too small shells and small crabs too large shells. Hermit crabs exposed to plastic showed weaker aggression (known as rap) in combat than crabs not exposed to plastic. Microplastics also reduced their ability to protect crabs in order to properly assess attackers during the contest, undermining their decision to abandon their shells early.

Hermit crabs are known as scavengers because they eat up decomposed marine life and bacteria and recycle energy into ecosystems. As such, they play an important role in rebalancing the ecosystem and are an important part of marine life.

Manus Cunningham of Queen’s University and one of the key researchers in this treatise said: shell Exposure to microplastics impaired reputation. ”

“Although 10% of the world’s plastic production eventually occurs in the ocean, there is very little research on how this disrupts animal behavior and cognition. Microplastic The pollution crisis threatens biodiversity more than is currently recognized. ”

Dr. Gareth Arnott, Principal Investigator of the Project, said: “This study provides insights into the potential of microplastics to alter important aspects of animal behavior that are critical to survival and reproduction. This knowledge advocates changes to protect our ecosystems. As a weapon, the result. ”


Studies highlight the effects of plastic pollution on marine life


For more information:
Eoghan M. Cunningham et al, Animal Contest and Microplastics: Evidence of Behavioral Disorders in Pagurus bernhardus, Hermit Crab, Royal Society Open Science (2021). DOI: 10.1098 / rsos.211089

Quote: According to research, how plastics threaten the biodiversity of marine life (October 13, 2021) is https: //phys.org/news/2021-10-plastics-threaten-biodiversity-marine-life. Obtained from html on October 13, 2021.

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