Dr Ruth Barnich to speak at World Conference on Marine Biodiversity

Principal Taxonomist, Dr Ruth Barnich, from Thomson Ecology, will speak at the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Montreal, Canada from the 13th -16th May.

Discussion around microplastic findings

Ruth will talk about the effects of microplastic granules which attach to the surface of invertebrates found in British estuaries. The immediate effects are not well understood, but most likely include modified behaviour, such as inhibited movements, and disturbed reproduction of the affected animals. These findings also illustrate, rather drastically, how plastic enters the food chain.

Standardised terminology across the industry

Due to the increased interest in plastic litter in the oceans, Thomson’s marine team are frequently asked to assess the presence of microplastics alongside the invertebrate animals in benthic samples. So far there is no guidance available on how to name and record microplastic consistently. Ruth will suggest in her talk a standardised terminology and methodology for recording the various types of microplastics found. After discussion at the conference, these suggestions will be submitted to UK environment agencies to help in developing a standardised approach.

Other habitat research underway

At the conference Ruth will also discuss a research project which she has co-authored alongside Jean-Philippe Pezy from the University of Caen in Normandy. The project investigates the type of habitat provided by large tubes of the polychaete Chaetopterus. A number of native and non-native commensal polychaete and crab species have been found living inside the tubes together with the host, and also a non-native ascidian attached to the outside of the tubes has been recorded. Apart from providing a sheltered habitat for the host and commensals or a substrate for attachment to sessile organisms, these tubes act as stepping stones, enabling the dispersal of native and non-native species.

For details on the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity including how to attend, click here.

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