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Inhabiting the technosphere: The encroachment of anthropogenic marine litter in Neotropical mangrove forests and its use as habitat by macrobenthic biota

Riascos, José M., Valencia, Natasha, Peña, Enrique J., Cantera, Jaime R.
Marine pollution bulletin 2019 v.142 pp. 559-568
Neotropics, anthropogenic activities, coasts, food webs, habitat preferences, leaching, littoral zone, mangrove forests, marine debris, microhabitats, plastics, urbanization, water pollution, Colombia
Coastal urbanization is leading to the accumulation of anthropogenic litter. Understanding the distribution and habitat use of litter by marine biota is important to predict how organisms will respond to anthropogenic changes. We assessed the density, distribution and composition of surface macro-litter (SML) in mangrove forests in Buenaventura (Colombia) and analysed how these microhabitats are used by marine biota. SML density ranged from 2 to 314 g m−2 (0.22 to 35.5 items m−2), implying that mangrove forests surrounding Buenaventura city are among the most polluted coastal areas in the World. Biological assemblages colonizing SML differed according to position on the forest and litter type. The encroachment of SML in mangrove forest enables a seemingly transient colonization of resident and immigrant biota from intertidal rocky shores and subtidal hard bottoms. The successful colonization of SML poses questions regarding the potential for plastics or their leaching chemicals to transfer through food webs.