When corals eat plastics
No. 87 • 22 May 2018
For this study, the scientists exposed corals to increased concentrations of microplastics under laboratory conditions and documented the reactions shown by the corals. It was observed that corals often interacted with the plastic particles and some even confused them with food. Other corals responded by more frequently producing mucus and showing other forms of rejection. After four weeks, five of the six species examined displayed initial signs of impaired health such as bleaching and tissue necrosis. Further studies must now show whether negative effects can be registered even under low microplastic concentrations and what longterm effects microplastics have on corals.
“Our study clearly indicates that microplastics are yet another human-made stress factor for corals and that they are very likely to contribute to further deterioration of coral reefs on our planet”, reports Jessica Reichert, the lead author. The study forms part of the “Ocean 2100” project located in Giessen, in which doctoral students from the German-Colombian Center of Excellence in Marine Sciences CEMarin are examining the effects of climate change on reef building stony corals. Conditions for the year 2100 are simulated in experiment tanks at the Interdisciplinary Research Centre (iFZ) by gradually setting different parameters such as temperature and acidic content of the water to the levels to be expected.
Jessica Reichert, Johannes Schellenberg, Patrick Schubert and Thomas Wilke: Responses of reef building corals to microplastic exposure. Environmental Pollution, Volume 237, June 2018
Prof. Dr. Thomas Wilke
Animal Ecology and Systematics
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32 (iFZ), D - 35392 Giessen
Tel.: (++49) 641 99-35720
Pressestelle der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Telefon: 0641 99-12041