New research conducted by Queen’s University Belfast has highlighted the devastating impact microplastics are wreaking on the environment through their impact on hermit crabs.
Building on previous research, findings have shown that hermit crabs exposed to microplastics have their ability hindered during shell fights, a mechanism crucial to their survival.
During shell fights, crabs will evict one another from a shell. However, researchers have found that attacking crabs lacked the aggression needed to conduct a successful attack after exposure to microplastics. In contrast, defending crabs had their ability to assess their attacker degraded, reducing their tendency to give up their shell.
According to the principal investigator on the project, Dr. Garth Arnott:
“This study provides an insight into the potential for microplastics to alter important aspects of animal behavior that are critical for survival and reproduction. We need to further investigate how microplastics affect their behaviour and the consequences, armed with this knowledge to advocate for change to protect our ecosystem.”
Read the study here or watch the video below.