How macro is the microplastic problem? The effect of human activity on microplastic distribution and uptake by intertidal invertebrates along the South Australian coastline

Ms Janet Klein1, Professor  Karen  Burke da Silva, Dr Emily Fobert

1Flinders University, Mt Barker, Australia

The presence of microplastics in the environment is ubiquitous worldwide and is increasing. Our knowledge of their origin, concentration, behaviour and impact however has only become a focus of enquiry in recent years, predominantly in waters of the northern hemisphere. Little is known of their impact in the southern hemisphere and even less within South Australian waters. Microplastics are known to be consumed by plankton, up through the food chain to invertebrates, fish and cetaceans. They are known to take a negative toll on organism and ecosystem health both directly and indirectly through trophic-transfer, including to the human food chain.

Responding to the need to understand microplastic distribution along the South Australian coastline and its relationship to varying levels of human activity, the abundance of microplastics in beach sand, water and two common intertidal marine invertebrates, the black mussel, Mytilis edulis and the cockle, Donax deltoids, have been investigated. Whether the abundance of microplastics in the environment has an impact on the uptake by these organisms, both within the human food chain, has also been investigated. Both these questions are novel in the South Australian context and are critical to our understanding of microplastic abundance along the South Australian coastline and therefore our understanding of their potential effect on our fragile marine ecosystems and within the human food-chain.


My background is in the application of conservation through agricultural business, with an emphasis on sustainable viticulture and landscape regeneration. In 2001, I cofounded Ngeringa Vineyards, one of Australia’s first certified biodynamic vineyard and wineries and now a reknowned leader in biodynamic fine wine production and sustainable farming. I have held various industry positions representing sustainable production and am actively engaged in conservation community-engagement and hold various board positions.

Concerned with the anthropogenic impact on ecosystems, I have returned to academia to undertake this investigation. My research is supported by Flinders University’s Conservation and Symbiosis Lab and the Lirabenda Foundation.

20 years preparing for the ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’. Re-introducing the Yellowish Sedge Skipper Butterfly to the Adelaide Plains

Mr Warrick Barnes1

1Natural Resources Amlr Adelaide Plains Council, Mallala, Australia

The Yellowish Sedge Skipper Butterfly hasn’t been seen on the Adelaide Plains since the mid 90’s. Changes in land use, clearance and pesticide use are believed the reasons for its disapearance.

This story of the ‘Very Hungary Caterpillar’ began with an idea that shone like a little egg on a leaf in the light of the moon.  Once hatched the ‘Very Hungrary Caterpillar’ sat through meetings, made friends, looked at maps, went to school and dreamed of far away places like Yorke Penninsular.

Although the story of the ‘Very Hungary Caterpillar’ is far from over he is extremly excited that he now has the opportunity to spread his wings and turn into a beautiful sort of yellow and somewhat brown butterfly.


Bio to come

The secret life of fish: what can BRUVS tell us about subtidal reefs?

Ms Jamie Hicks1, Mr  David  Miller1, Mr Daniel  Easton1, Mr Danny  Brock1

1Department for Environment and Water, Adelaide, Australia

Subtidal reefs are a critical component of marine ecosystems in SA supporting a diverse array of species, ecological communities and ecosystem services. Subtidal reefs provide food and refuge for a wide range of fish and invertebrates, and are home to iconic temperate species of conservation interest including blue devils, leafy sea dragons and western blue groper. The local reefs here in SA are part of the “Great Southern Reef” that stretches from WA to Victoria with 85% of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. The monitoring of these reefs is important to maintain the health of these important ecosystems.

Baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) are a powerful tool used worldwide to monitor changes in fish assemblages. BRUVS can be deployed at a range of depth, are non-destructive and the data collected can be utilized to assess community composition, distribution, relative abundance and size of marine fishes and provides a permanent record of data. The Department of Environment uses BRUVS across a range of projects including the monitoring of SA Marine Parks and Windara shellfish reef.  The information being collected by BRUVS is helping better understand fish communities and their behaviour and contributes to new records of fish, locating biodiversity hotspots and identifying aggregation sites for important species.


Bio to come

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