Hermit Crab study shows microplastic’s effect on marine life

A new study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science discovered that microplastics affect the behavior of hermit crabs, a key part of the ocean ecosystem. The study, conducted by Queen’s University, highlights the impact of microplastics on the growth and reproduction of hermit crabs.

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In a press release, the researchers explained the study’s methodology, saying, “The research consisted of keeping hermit crabs in two tanks: one containing polyethylene spheres (a common microplastic pollutant) and one without. plastic (control) for five days. The team simulated the environment to encourage a hermit crab competition by placing pairs of hermit crabs in an arena, giving the larger crab a shell that’s too small and the smaller a shell that’s too big.

Related: Global Warming Causes Massive Migration of Marine Life

Shell fights are crucial to the survival of hermit crabs. During shell fights, crabs have to fight with each other for larger seashells to occupy as their home. As they grow, crabs leave smaller shells and find new homes by fighting each other. According to the latest study, hermit crabs exposed to microplastics had altered attack and defense behavior. As a result, researchers say that the ability of crabs to grow and survive is weakened.

Hermit Crabs are essential to the entire ocean ecosystem. As scavengers, these tiny animals help recycle energy in the ecosystem. They feed on marine life and decomposed bacteria, helping to rebalance the ecosystem.

One of the lead researchers for the paper, Manus Cunningham of Queen’s University, said: “These findings are extremely important because they illustrate how much information gathering and hull ratings have been altered when they are exposed to microplastics. “

According to Cunningham, there isn’t a lot of information available on the impact of microplastics on marine life. This is one of the first studies to show the exact threats microplastics pose to specific species.

“Although 10% of the world’s plastic production ends up in the ocean, there is very little research on how it can disrupt animal behavior and cognition. This study shows how the microplastic pollution crisis threatens biodiversity more than is currently recognized, ”said Cunningham.

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