Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Katie Hossler, Ph.D. (Advisor); Volker Bahn, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Yvonne Vadeboncoeur, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wetlands provide many valuable ecosystem services; however, an emerging global contaminant—microplastic (< 5 mm)—may be degrading this important resource. Few studies have extensively surveyed microplastic distribution in wetlands over a broad spatial area. Therefore, the goal of this study is to identify where microplastics are accumulating in wetlands, and whether there is any correlation between microplastic concentration and wetland quality. Soil samples were collected from 30 wetlands in west–central Ohio. Samples were physically separated, density separated, and digested. Average microplastic concentrations were 637 ± 494 items per kg soil per wetland. Higher quality wetlands are accumulating larger concentrations of microplastics. This relationship seems to be driven by greater accumulation of microplastics in forested wetlands than in wetlands surrounded by agriculture. There is no clear distribution pattern of microplastics within wetlands. These results provide insight into the role that wetlands have in association with microplastic accumulation.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Biology Commons