Trophic niche influences ingestion of micro- and mesoplastics in pelagic and demersal fish from the Western Mediterranean Sea

Environmental Pollution

Volume: 328 Pages: 121632  ISSN: 0269-7491 Doi:

Authors: Dario Giani, Cristina Andolina, Matteo Baini, Cristina Panti, Mariangela Sciandra, Salvatrice Vizzini, Maria Cristina Fossi

Abstract: Plastic pollution has been extensively documented in the marine food web, but targeted studies focusing on the relationship between microplastic ingestion and fish trophic niches are still limited. In this study we investigated the frequency of occurrence and the abundance of micro- and mesoplastics (MMPs) in eight fish species with different feeding habits from the western Mediterranean Sea. Stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) was used to describe the trophic niche and its metrics for each species. A total of 139 plastic items were found in 98 out of the 396 fish analysed (25%). The bogue revealed the highest occurrence with 37% of individuals with MMPs in their gastrointestinal tract, followed by the European sardine (35%). We highlighted how some of the assessed trophic niche metrics seem to influence MMPs occurrence. Fish species with a wider isotopic niche and higher trophic diversity were more probable to ingest plastic particles in pelagic, benthopelagic and demersal habitats. Additionally, fish trophic habits, habitat and body condition influenced the abundance of ingested MMPs. A higher number of MMPs per individual was found in zooplanktivorous than in benthivore and piscivorous species. Similarly, our results show a higher plastic particles ingestion per individual in benthopelagic and pelagic species than in demersal species, which also resulted in lower body condition. Altogether, these results suggest that feeding habits and trophic niche descriptors can play a significant role in the ingestion of plastic particles in fish species.