DV-19-06 Effects of microplastic fibers presence and ingestion on American lobster larvae

Dr. David Fields
Bigelow Laboratory

Increasing concentrations of marine plastics and microplastics have been documented in the Gulf of Maine, due to an array of plastic pollution sources. Marine plastics and microplastics are known to be ingested by marine invertebrate species, including lobster, a commercially important species in Maine. Previous research on other invertebrate larvae indicates that the ingestion of microplastics causes decreased mobility, early settlement, slower growth rates, and a reduced feeding rate.  

This project will examine the effects of microplastic ingestion in lobster larvae and on species survival. Building on a study conducted in 2017 on blue mussels (Mytilus edulis), scientists will focus on the ingestion of microplastic fibers in the American lobster (Homarus americanus) during larval development. This study will look at the survival rates of the larvae, the ingestion and depuration rates (purification of impurities), body size, and any morphological and functional abnormalities. This species-specific approach to assessing the impact of microplastic ingestion will provide researchers with a greater understanding of the impact plastics and microplastics have on marine ecosystems. 

Sea Grant Funds: $5,000