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Micro- and macroplastic accumulation in a newly formed Spartina alterniflora colonized estuarine saltmarsh in southeast China


In recent years, there is great concern about plastic pollution due to the identification of several environmental risks associated with microplastics (<5 mm). This study investigated microplastic and macroplastic accumulation patterns in a newly formed Spartina alterniflora colonized saltmarsh of an estuary in southeastern China. Abundance of microplastic and macroplastic particles was in the range of 9600–130725 and 200-4350 n/m2, respectively. Abundances of microplastics and macroplastics were highest at the saltmarsh edge, but the mass of macroplastics was highest in the saltmarsh interior. Mass of microplastics and macroplastics in bareflats was significantly lower than vegetated areas. Although microplastics accounted for 96.3% of total plastic abundance, macroplastics accounted for 90% of total plastic mass. Results showed that S. alterniflora dominated saltmarshes have a strong ability to trap plastic debris, especially macroplastics. Thus, coastal saltmarshes may serve as a transformer of macroplastics to microplastics and consequently as a source of microplastics to the ocean.

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