No short-term effect of sinking microplastics on heterotrophy or sediment clearing in the tropical coral Stylophora pistillata

Sonia Bejarano, Anna Feuring, Valeska Diemel, Mattia Ghilardi & Tilmann Harder
Investigations of encounters between corals and microplastics have, to date, used particle concentrations that are several orders of magnitude above environmentally relevant levels. Here we investigate whether concentrations closer to values reported in tropical coral reefs affect sediment shedding and heterotrophy in reef-building corals. We show that single-pulse microplastic deposition elicits significantly more coral polyp retraction than comparable amounts of calcareous sediments. When deposited separately from sediments, microplastics remain longer on corals than sediments, through...
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