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Hermit crab behaviour affected by microplastics
"This study shows how the microplastic pollution crisis is threatening biodiversity more than is currently recognised" - Mánus Cunningham.

The microplastics impede the crabs' ability to attack and defend. 

New research from Queen's University Belfast has discovered microplastics affect hermit crabs' ability to fight during shell fight contests, which are vital for the species' survival.

The study expands upon previous research by Queen's University which demonstrated that hermit crabs were less likely to touch or enter high-quality shells when exposed to microplastics. 

Published in Royal Society Open Science, the study explores how hermit crabs' behaviour is effected when exposed to microplastics, and discovered that the microplastics impair both the attacking and defending behaviour of hermit crabs during contests, affecting their ability to secure the larger shell necessary for growth and survival. 

The research process involved keeping hermit crabs in two tanks, one containing polyethylene spheres, and one with plastic for five days. The researchers stimulated the environment to encourage a hermit crab contest through placing pairs of hermit crabs in an arena, and giving each crab the wrong sized-shell to encourage a fight.

Crabs exposed to the plastic displayed weaker attacking behaviour during fights than those not exposed to plastic, and it was found that the microplastics also reduced the crabs' defending ability to properly assess their attackers during contests. 

Mánus Cunningham, one of the paper's lead researchers, commented: “These findings are hugely significant as they illustrate how both the information-gathering and shell evaluations were impaired when exposed to microplastics.

“Although 10% of global plastic production ends up in the ocean, there is very limited research on how this can disrupt animal behaviour and cognition. 

“This study shows how the microplastic pollution crisis is threatening biodiversity more than is currently recognised.”

Dr Gareth Arnott, principal investigator of the project, added: “This study provides an insight into the potential for microplastics to alter important aspects of animal behaviour that are critical for survival and reproduction.

“We need to further investigate how microplastics affect their behaviour and the consequences, armed with this knowledge to advocate for change to protect our ecosystem.”

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RCVS Fellowship applications open

News Story 1
 Applications have now opened for RCVS Fellowship 2022. The RCVS is encouraging anyone who would like to be considered for Fellowship to apply, and if successful, they will be welcomed into the Fellowship next year.

The process for joining the fellowship has changed slightly for this year, as applicants will now need two signed referee forms instead of three professional references, and five assessors will review each application instead of three.

The deadline for applications is 14 February 2022, and more information on how to apply can be found here. If applicants have any questions, or would like informal advice from previous successful applicants, they are encouraged to contact Ceri Via Email 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Horiba announces veterinary haematology webinar

Horiba Medical has announced a free webinar providing practical insight on best practice in veterinary haematology. Entitled 'In practice haematology - Beyond the pale!' the webinar will be presented by Ronnie Barron from the University of Glasgow Veterinary School.

Ronnie's presentation, which will conclude with a Q&A session, will look at QC and artefacts of sample quality and review the effects of different pathologies. Using images, photomicrographs and video links, he will also explain the techniques and equipment needed to complement analytical automation to confirm results quality.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, October 28 (7.30-9pm). For more details and to register, click here.