Publication Date

Spring 4-21-2020


School of Health Sciences


Biology: Environmental Science; Zoology


Freshwater Ecology and Conservation; Freshwater Pollution; Microplastics; Crayfish Organisms; Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy


Analytical Chemistry | Environmental Chemistry | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Monitoring | Fresh Water Studies | Natural Resources and Conservation


Aquatic organisms often mistake microplastic particulates (MP) as food and inadvertently ingest the particulates, which can biomagnify through the food chain. While MP ingestion is well-researched in the marine environment, little is known about microplastics in freshwater  ecosystems. This project explores MP occurrence in an ecologically significant freshwater invertebrate: crayfish. Crayfish from two Central Virginia streams are collected to identify MP in the digestive tracts and gill filaments, and characterize the MP using analytical chemistry techniques. It was determined that MP were present in the digestive tracts and gill filaments of crayfish collected from both streams, and that MP frequency in the urban stream was greater than that of the rural stream due to its location near the dominant thoroughfare.