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Data from: The effects of natural and anthropogenic microparticles on individual fitness in Daphnia magna

Cite this dataset

Ogonowski, Martin; Schür, Christoph; Jarsén, Åsa; Gorokhova, Elena (2017). Data from: The effects of natural and anthropogenic microparticles on individual fitness in Daphnia magna [Dataset]. Dryad.


Concerns are being raised that microplastic pollution can have detrimental effects on the feeding of aquatic invertebrates, including zooplankton. Both small plastic fragments (microplastics, MPs) produced by degradation of larger plastic waste (secondary MPs; SMPs) and microscopic plastic spheres used in cosmetic products and industry (primary MPs; PMPs) are ubiquitously present in the environment. However, despite the fact that most environmental MPs consist of weathered plastic debris with irregular shape and broad size distribution, experimental studies of organism responses to MP exposure have largely used uniformly sized spherical PMPs. Therefore, effects observed for PMPs in such experiments may not be representative for MP-effects in situ. Moreover, invertebrate filter-feeders are generally well adapted to the presence of refractory material in seston, which questions the potential of MPs at environmentally relevant concentrations to measurably affect digestion in these organisms. Here, we compared responses to MPs (PMPs and SMPs) and naturally occurring particles (kaolin clay) using the cladoceran Daphnia magna as a model organism. We manipulated food levels (0.4 and 9 μg C mL-1) and MP or kaolin contribution to the feeding suspension (<1 to 74%) and evaluated effects of MPs and kaolin on food uptake, growth, reproductive capacity of the daphnids, and maternal effects on offspring survival and feeding. Exposure to SMPs caused elevated mortality, increased inter-brood period and decreased reproduction albeit only at high MP levels in the feeding suspension (74% by particle count). No such effects were observed in either PMP or kaolin treatments. In daphnids exposed to any particle type at the low algal concentration, individual growth decreased by ~15%. By contrast, positive growth response to all particle types was observed at the high algal concentration with 17%, 54% and 40% increase for kaolin, PMP and SMP, respectively. When test particles comprised 22% in the feeding suspension, both MP types decreased food intake by 30%, while kaolin had no effect. Moreover, SMPs were found to homoaggregate in a concentration-dependent manner, which resulted in a 77% decrease of the ingested SMPs compared to PMPs. To better understand MP-processing in the gut, gut passage time (GPT) and evacuation rate of MPs were also assayed. SMPs and PMPs differed in their effects on daphnids; moreover, the particle effects were dependent on the MP: algae ratio in the suspension. When the MP contribution to the particle abundance in the medium changed from 1 to 4%, GPT for daphnids exposed to SMPs increased 2-fold. Our results suggest that MPs and, in particular, SMPs, have a greater capacity to negatively affect feeding in D. magna compared to naturally occurring mineral particles of similar size. Moreover, grazer responses observed in experiments with PMPs cannot be extrapolated to the field where SMPs dominate, because of the greater effects caused by the latter.

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