Effects of Microfibers on Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Attachment Behavior

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Laurie Eberhardt


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2019


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.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Cody Banks is a biology and environmental science double major in his final semester at VU. He is interested in environmental restoration and ecology, which have lead him in the direction of research that deals with impacts of human inputs into natural systems, as well as towards the field of restoration and management in the Lake Michigan watershed. Growing up near Lake Michigan spurred an interest in understanding and protecting freshwater ecosystems.

Thomas Paul is a sophomore at Valparaiso University who is currently a Biology major and Chemistry minor. While Thomas is currently involved in the preMed program, he is also fascinated by epidemiology and hopes to possibly work one day with the CDC. This is the first research experience for Thomas, but he hopes to continue similar work throughout his undergraduate education.

This document is currently not available here.