Although the roles of earthworms and soil collembolans in the transport of microplastics have been studied previously, the effects of the soil biota at different trophic levels and interspecific relationships remain poorly understood. Here, we examine three soil microarthropod species to explore their effects on the transport of microplastics. The selected Folsomia candida and Hypoaspis aculeifer are extensively used model organisms, and Damaeus exspinosus is a common and abundant indigenous species in China. A model food chain (prey-collembolan and predator-mite) was structured to test the role of the predator-prey relationship in the transport of microplastics. Commercial Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) particles (Diameter: 80–250 μm) were selected as the test microplastics, because large amounts of PVC have persisted and accumulated in the environment. Synchronized soil microarthropods were held in plates for seven days to determine the movement of microplastics. The 5000 microplastic particles were carefully placed in the center of each plate prior to the introduction of the animals. Our results clearly show that all three microarthropod species moved and dispersed the microplastics in the plates. The 0.54%, 1.8% and 4.6% of the added microplastic particles were moved by collembolan, predatory mite and oribatid mite, respectively. Soil microarthropods (<0.2 cm) transported microplastic particles up to 9 cm. The avoidance behavior was observed in the collembolans in respect of the microplastics. The predatory -prey relationship did promote the transport of microplastics in the plates, increasing transport by 40% compared with the effects of adding single species (P < .05). Soil microarthropods commonly occur in surface soils (0–5 cm) and, due to their small body size, they can enter soil pores. Our results therefore suggest that the movement of microplastics by soil microarthropods may influence the exposure of other soil biota to microplastics and change the physical properties of soils.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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