Plastics In the Foodchain

Photography by  Alberto_VO5

Photography by Alberto_VO5

what is a food chain?

A food chain is a description of who eats who in the wild. Things like plants and herbivores are low on the food chain, whereas predators and decomposers are high on the food chain. 

How do plastics enter the food chain? 

Because many plastic particles are so small (see microplastics), they can and are being ingested very low on the food chain (Wright et al 2013Outi Setälä 2014).  It has also been confirmed that microplastics have the ability to move up the food chain at incredible low levels, i.e. from mesozooplankton to microzooplankton (Outi Setälä 2014).  This implies that microplastics could accumulate in aquatic food webs, which is potentially hazardous to both ecological and human health.

How do plastics accumulate in the food chain?

When pollutants enter the food chain, their concentration increases from one link to another. 

You can see in the pyramid diagram below how this works. The pollutant (red dot) starts out in a low concentration in the first pyramid section.  As you move up the food chain, or pyramid, the concentration of the pollutant becomes higher.

Imagery by  Martin-rnr

Imagery by Martin-rnr