Behaviour 2019
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Predicting population level effects of microplastics ingestion on the behaviour of salmonids
Kathleen Church1, Christina AD Semeniuk2. 1GLIER, Windsor, Ontario, Canada; 2GLIER, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Behavioural changes can inform how pollutants, like microplastics, are likely to affect populations. High numbers of microplastics are currently present in freshwater habitats, and are frequently mistaken for food by fish, including salmonids. Laboratory studies show that altered swimming and foraging behaviour often occur following microplastics ingestion, but it is presently unknown how these behavioural changes affect population size. We aim to fill this knowledge gap by using an Agent-Based Model (ABM) to assess how behavioural changes following microplastics ingestion will affect the population viability of stream-dwelling salmonids. The ABM will simulate the foraging behaviour of stream-dwelling salmonids consuming different quantities of microplastics, and will be used to explore multiple future scenarios with varying conditions not feasible for real-world experiments.  The ABM will be used to identify the characteristics that affect salmonid susceptibility to the effects of microplastic pollution. This research will help inform effective conservation targets for microplastics concentrations, and to reduce ecosystem-level effects caused by declines in salmonid populations.