Investigating Microplastic Contamination within Antarctica's Only Endemic Insect

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract Investigating microplastic contamination within Antarctica’s only endemic insect Mr. Jack Devlin under Dr. Nicholas Teets In this study we focus on the prevalence and consequences of MP accumulation in terrestrial midge, Belgica antarctica (Jacobs 1900, Diptera, Chironomidae). Larvae of B. antarctica are low-selective generalists that feed on a variety of food sources (Lee et al., 2006). Consequently, it is likely that this species is susceptible to MP ingestion and potential negative physiological effects, as observed in other chironomids species (e.g. Scherer et al., 2020; Carrasco-Navarro et al. 2021; Lin et al., 2021). B. antarctica is the only endemic higher insect in Antarctica and has locally high abundances (up to 40,000 larvae per m2; Potts et al., 2020) and thus likely plays a major role in nutrient turnover within these simple soil ecosystems (Chown and Convey, 2016; Bokhorst et al., 2019). In conjunction with (and permission from) an NSF-funded research project (Grant no. OPP- 1850988), we will conduct insect sampling around Palmer Station in February – March 2023. The aims of this project are twofold: 1) Determine MP load within field collected larvae, and 2) Investigate the physiological consequences of MP exposure in laboratory settings. We will send insect samples collected during our fieldwork (~100 extra individuals, out of thousands collected for the project) to Italy for microplastics analysis in the laboratory of Dr. Elisa Bergami at UNIMORE Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy. The grant from the Antarctic Science International Bursary will support the costs of the analyses and travel costs for Jack to visit Dr. Bergami and learn these analyses. While in Italy, Jack will be able to continue working on the NSF-sponsored work, as at that time he will primarily be analyzing RNA-seq data we have collected for the project and other data collected during the field season.
Effective start/end date6/1/228/31/23


  • Antarctic Science Ltd: $6,723.00


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