MikroPlaTaS - Microplastics in Dams and Reservoirs: Sedimentation, Spread, Effects

The spread of microplastics (i.e. plastic particles under 5 mm in size) is not only observed in the oceans, but also in freshwater ecosystems. Dams and reservoirs have so far largely been overlooked, although they might play an important role as sinks for microplastic.

The project MikroPlaTaS analyses the occurence of microplastic in dams and reservoirs, with a special focus on biofilm growth on plastic particles and the influence of biofouling on their sedimentation. Further, the researchers test the effects of micropastic exposure on different aquatic invertebrates.

Based on our results we can evaluate the risks of plastic pollution for the aquatic environment and support future measures.

Learn more about the project.

© Twitter


From now on our team will tweet about current topics and events within the project as well as news on plastic and microplastic.

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Final MikroPlaTaS conference


Since 2018, our MikroPlaTaS team has been researching microplastics in reservoirs and dams. We have just held our final conference to sum up, present key results, reflect, and venture an outlook. Many thanks to all participants!

Results in compact factsheets

© P.O. Walter

Our most important results are now presented in two factsheets:

  • Microplastic in the food chain
  • Microplastic in dams and reservoirs
The factsheets are not yet available in English.

Virtual project meeting


Our last project meeting was held digitally once again, due to the current situation. We exchanged our recent progress within the project and discussed scientific methods. Further, the project partners took a first look back on the their work and evaluated the next steps until the project will end in June.

Travelling exhibition on (micro-)plastic

© A. Nieber

Our team has created a travelling exhibition especially for schools, which provides valuable information on plastic in general as well as the results of our research. The aim of the exhibition is to inform students about the current issue of plastic pollution, with a special focus on freshwater ecosystems and the role of dams and reservoirs.

Mesocosm study finished

© L. Kruckenfellner

After twelve weeks and more than 2500 measurements and samplings the researchers in Homberg (Ohm) finalized their mesocosm experiments. In these model ecosystems they tested the effects of mircoplastic particles (Nylon-6) on microorganisms, algae and aquatic invertebrates. Now follow the taxonomic and statistical analyses of the results.

New publication in Water Research

© Rico Leiser

In their recently published paper Rico Leiser and Katrin Wendt-Potthoff et. al. (UFZ Magdeburg) have observed the microbial growth on polymer particles within a freshwater reservoir. Aggregation of PE particles with organic matter and iron precipitation resulted in a sedimentation of those aggregates. This shows, how boyant particles can naturally be removed from the water column.

You can find further reports in the archive.