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Microplastic leachates inhibit small-scale self-organization in mussel beds

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Self-organized spatial patterns are increasingly recognized for their contribution to ecosystem functioning. They can improve the ecosystem's ability to respond to perturbation and thus increase its resilience to environmental stress. Plastic pollution has now emerged as major threat to aquatic and terrestrial biota. Under laboratory conditions, we tested whether plastic leachates from pellets collected in the intertidal can impair small-scale, spatial self-organization and byssal threads production of intertidal mussels and whether the effect varied depending on where the pellets come from. Specifically, leachates originating from plastic pellets collected from relatively pristine and polluted areas respectively impaired and inhibited the ability of mussels to self-organize at small-scale and to produce byssal threads compared to control conditions (i.e., seawater without leaching solution). Limitations to natural self-organizing processes and threads formation may translate to a declined capacity of natural ecosystems to avoid tipping points and to a reduced restoration success of disturbed ecosystems.



Ecosystem Global change Mytilus Heavy metals Behavior


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