Plastic pollution: A focus on freshwater biodiversity

Valter M. Azevedo-Santos, Marcelo F.G. Brito, Pedro S. Manoel, Júlia F. Perroca, Jorge Luiz Rodrigues-Filho, Lucas R.P. Paschoal, Geslaine R.L. Gonçalves, Milena R. Wolf, Martín C.M. Blettler, Marcelo C. Andrade, André B. Nobile, Felipe P. Lima, Ana M.C. Ruocco, Carolina V. Silva, Gilmar Perbiche-Neves, Jorge L. Portinho, Tommaso Giarrizzo, Marlene S. Arcifa, Fernando M. Pelicice

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Plastics are dominant pollutants in freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Scientific studies that investigated the interaction between plastics and freshwater biodiversity are incipient, especially if compared to the marine realm. In this review, we provide a brief overview of plastic pollution in freshwater ecosystems around the world. We found evidence of plastic ingestion by 206 freshwater species, from invertebrates to mammals, in natural or semi-natural ecosystems. In addition, we reported other consequences of synthetic polymers in freshwater ecosystems—including, for instance, the entanglement of animals of different groups (e.g., birds). The problem of plastic pollution is complex and will need coordinated actions, such as recycling programs, correct disposal, stringent legislation, regular inspection, replacement of synthetic polymers with other materials, and ecological restoration. Current information indicates that the situation in freshwater ecosystems may be as detrimental as the pollution found in the ocean, although highly underappreciated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1324
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


  • Entanglement
  • Ingestion
  • Inland waters
  • Law
  • Microplastic
  • Plants


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