Microplastics integrating the zooplanktonic fraction in a saline lake of Argentina: influence of water management

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This study address for the first time in Argentina and the South American continent the effect of water management on the presence of microplastics (MPs) in a shallow lake, assessing their contribution to the zooplankton fraction. Water samples were collected in the lake and its principal affluent, an irrigation channel, from winter 2018 to summer 2019 with a zooplankton net (47 μm). MPs were present in all analyzed samples, with a dominance of fibers, black color, and ≤ 1000 μm range size. MPs concentration was maximum during summer at the lake (180 MPs m−3) while during spring (140 MPs m−3) at the channel. Rotifers and cyclopoids dominated the zooplanktonic fraction at both sites which range sizes (< 200 to 600 μm) included most of the size range found for MPs (50–950 μm). According to our results, the MPs found represents a potential risk for the first levels of the food web. In the lake, the concentration of MPs concerning total zooplankton abundance was higher when the channel was closed. Nevertheless, when the channel was open, the higher concentration in summer matches with the increase of tourism and an extraordinary rainfall. Our results suggest that while the runoff of agro-industrial waste regulates the MPs concentration in the channel, its water management, the touristic activities, and the runoff of MPs from nearby urban settlements regulate the concentration of MPs in the lake. These findings emphasize the need for better treatment of urban and agro-industrial waste that develops near continental aquatic systems, mainly in those where tourism activities are frequent and treatment facilities scarce.

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The authors thank the members of the Sociedad de Fomento de la Laguna La Salada for the logistic support they provided and the editor and reviewers for their comments and suggestions that helped to improve the manuscript.

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This study was supported, in part, by grants from the network project PAMPA2 (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, (CONICET), Universidad Nacional del Sur (PGI 24/G059), the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) CRN3038 (under US National Science Foundation Award GEO-1128040).

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Correspondence to María Belén Alfonso.

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Alfonso, M.B., Arias, A.H. & Piccolo, M.C. Microplastics integrating the zooplanktonic fraction in a saline lake of Argentina: influence of water management. Environ Monit Assess 192, 117 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10661-020-8080-1

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  • Microplastics
  • Pollution
  • Shallow lake
  • Zooplankton
  • Water management
  • South America