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Microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems: Moving beyond the state of the art to minimize the risk of ecological surprise

Baho, Didier Ludovic and Bundschuh, Mirco and Futter, Martyn (2021). Microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems: Moving beyond the state of the art to minimize the risk of ecological surprise. Global Change Biology. 27 , 3969-3986
[Research article]

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Microplastic (plastic particles measuring <5mm) pollution is ubiquitous. Unlike in other well-studied ecosystems, for example, marine and freshwater environments, microplastics in terrestrial systems are relatively understudied. Their potential impacts on terrestrial environments, in particular the risk of causing ecological surprise, must be better understood and quantified. Ecological surprise occurs when ecosystem behavior deviates radically from expectations and generally has negative consequences for ecosystem services. The properties and behavior of microplastics within terrestrial environments may increase their likelihood of causing ecological surprises as they (a) are highly persistent global pollutants that will last for centuries, (b) can interact with the abiotic environment in a complex manner, (c) can impact terrestrial organisms directly or indirectly and (d) interact with other contaminants and can facilitate their transport. Here, we compiled findings of previous research on microplastics in terrestrial environments. We systematically focused on studies addressing different facets of microplastics related to their distribution, dispersion, impact on soil characteristics and functions, levels of biological organization of tested terrestrial biota (single species vs. assemblages), scale of experimental study and corresponding ecotoxicological effects. Our systematic assessment of previous microplastic research revealed that most studies have been conducted on single species under laboratory conditions with short-term exposures; few studies were conducted under more realistic long-term field conditions and/or with multi-species assemblages. Studies targeting multi-species assemblages primarily considered soil bacterial communities and showed that microplastics can alter essential nutrient cycling functions. More ecologically meaningful studies of terrestrial microplastics encompassing multi-species assemblages, critical ecological processes (e.g., biogeochemical cycles and pollination) and interactions with other anthropogenic stressors must be conducted. Addressing these knowledge gaps will provide a better understanding of microplastics as emerging global stressors and should lower the risk of ecological surprise in terrestrial ecosystems.

Authors/Creators:Baho, Didier Ludovic and Bundschuh, Mirco and Futter, Martyn
Title:Microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems: Moving beyond the state of the art to minimize the risk of ecological surprise
Series Name/Journal:Global Change Biology
Year of publishing :2021
Page range:3969-3986
Number of Pages:18
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:ecological impacts, ecological surprise, ecosystem services, microplastics, soil, terrestrial ecosystems
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Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000660902100001
ID Code:24987
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:23 Aug 2021 12:25
Metadata Last Modified:23 Aug 2021 12:31

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