What is a macroplastic? These plastics are greater than 4 mm (5/32in) and are visible with the naked eye. Macroplastics will eventually breakdown into microplastics, which can be consumed by marine organisms.
Scientists all over the world are trying to quantify the impacts of these plastics in the marine ecosystems. The General Ecology course at B-CU will be joining this effort by examining how they might impact an important beach inhabitant, the ghost crab.
Ghost crabs are nocturnal species that create complex burrows in the sand. You’ve likely enjoyed the beach right next to one of their burrows, which looks a lot like an umbrella hole in the sand.
Ghost crabs are being used as indicator species to track the impacts of human disturbance along our beaches. Several studies have demonstrated their sensitivity to human activities including beach renourishment and automobile tracks in the sand.
Dr. Krejci and Dr. Kim headed out to sun splash park in Daytona Beach to test out the methodology for their study on the relationship between ghost crab density and size to macroplastics along the beach front.
Dr. Krejci has previously studied the impacts of beach renourishment on ghost crabs and Dr. Kim completed an REU project on macroplastics during Summer 2019. The two professors combined their efforts to establish what impacts macroplastics have on sandy shores in Florida. The General Ecology students will begin their 4 week field research on Monday.