Effects of polyester plastic on attachment behavior in zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and movement in ramshorn snails (Planorbella campanulata)

Faculty Sponsor

Laurie Eberhardt


Arts and Sciences


Biology, Ecology

ORCID Identifier(s)

Thomas Paul - https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1512-7894 ; Laurie Eberhardt - https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0144-5821

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-29-2021


Plastic pollution in aquatic environments has gained significant attention over the past decade, as microplastic (plastic fibers less than 5 mm in length) pollution has been quantified in marine and some freshwater environments. However, much of the ecological impact of microplastics is still relatively unknown. Furthermore, in lieu of COVID-19 pandemic, disposable plastic masks have been widely used and discarded, serving as potential sources of microplastic pollution. In this study, snails (Planorbella campanulata) and invasive zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) were used to study the effects of microplastic pollution in freshwater environments. Behavioral changes in snails were examined. Zebra mussels in fish tanks were exposed to polyester, a plastic found in disposable face masks, and the number of byssal threads produced by the mussels was recorded. No significant differences were found between control mussels and those exposed to plastics (n1 = 10, n2 = 9, U1 = 52.5, U2 = 37.5, p > 0.05). The reason for such variation in byssal thread production in zebra mussels remains unknown. Further understanding may require research on different organisms to understand the ecological consequences of microplastic pollution.

This document is currently not available here.