Anthropogenic pollutants are a common issue, yet ubiquitous in natural environments. In this experiment, Eisenia fetida, a common indicator of ecosystem health, was exposed to varying pollutants and assessed using behavioral assays, escape response to stress, change in biomass, and avoidance trials. The treatment groups included; high (HMP) and low (LMP) microplastics, high and low salt concentrations, imidacloprid pesticide, and combinations of the latter three. Following experimental testing, pH and conductivity were measured to assess soil health. In the presence of microplastics, earthworms showed a significant decrease in their ability to respond to stress, indicating negative impacts on behavior. We also found significant differences between initial and final biomass for the control, HMP, and LMP. In conclusion, microplastics and high salinity alters earthworms ability to respond to stress and biomass differences may be attributed to the “peanut butter on a cracker theory”, wherein nutrients are derived from microbial biofilms
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DiBiase, Jacob; Atkins, Ryan; Drumma, Kaitlyn; Roylance, Emma; and Mahadeo, Vashti Devi B., "Assessing the Impacts of Anthropogenic Pollutants on Earthworm (Eisenia fetida) Biomass and Behavior Using Soil Microcosms" (2023). Research Days Posters 2023. 138.