Effects of Microfibers on Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Attachment Behavior
Dr. Laurie Eberhardt
Arts and Sciences
Microplastics and fibers are an ever-growing ecological concern which result from both the breakdown of plastic pollutants and from human activities. Little is known of the behavioral effects which these pollutants have on affected organisms. Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are an ecologically important invasive species of filter feeders found in local freshwater systems which could help illustrate the ecological effects of microfiber pollution. Zebra mussels were collected from Stone Lake and Flint Lake and were exposed to treatments of blue polyester fleece fibers and polypropylene fibers from a rope to study the effects these typical pollutants have on attachment behavior of zebra mussels to substrates. Both types of pollutants were shown to have significant impacts on the amount of force required to remove a mussel from its substrate. This preliminary study indicates that attachment strength is a useful and measurable tool for studying behavioral effects of microfiber pollutants and opens up possibilities for further research and understanding of the larger ecological effects and implications of plastic pollutants.
Paul, Thomas G.; Banks, Cody A.; and Eberhardt, Laurie, "Effects of Microfibers on Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Attachment Behavior" (2019). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 809.