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Synergistic effects of water temperature, microplastics and ammonium as second and third order stressors on Daphnia magna

The coupling of three stressors (ammonium, microplastics and water temperature) resulted in a decrease in the D. magna filtration capacity and an increase in the D. magna mortality. The combination of stressors was found to act synergistically in all the cases studied, except those for the double combination of low ammonium concentration with low water temperature. Daphnids, including the water flea Daphnia magna, can be exploited for wastewater treatment purposes, given that they are filter feeder organisms that are able to remove suspended particles from water. The presence of pollutants, such as microplastics and chemicals, might be considered stressors and modify the behaviour and survival of D. magna individuals. The impact of the cumulative pollutants that regulate the fate of living organisms has yet to be fully determined. Here we present the effect of double and triple combinations of stressors on the behaviour of D. magna. The impact of water temperature, ammonium and polystyrene microplastics on the filtration capacity and survival of D. magna is studied. Water temperatures of 15 °C, 20 °C and 25 °C, microplastic-to-food ratios of 25% and 75%, and ammonium concentrations of 10 and 30 mg N–NH4+ L−1 are tested after making dual and triple combinations of the parameters. A synergistic effect between water temperature and ammonium is normally observed but not in the case of the lower values of ammonium concentration and temperature. The combination of three stressors (water temperature, microplastics and ammonium) is also found to be synergistic, producing the greatest impact on D. magna filtration capacity and reducing their survival. In comparison with the effect of the two stressor conditions, the combination of the three stressors caused a reduction of between 13.1% and 91.7% in the t50% time (the time required for a 50% reduction in the D. magna filtration capacity) and a reduction of between 4.8% and 54.5% in TD50 (the time for 50% mortality). 

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