Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences


Nikki L Adams


Plastic waste and debris have greatly increased in the marine environment during the past 50 years. Not only do these plastics entangle and get ingested by marine mammals, turtles, and sea birds, but they also leach chemicals, such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and styrene into the aquatic environment. While some of these chemicals are known to be toxic, few studies have examined their effects on broadcast spawning marine invertebrates, specifically at environmentally relevant concentrations. Purple sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, from the central coast of California, were utilized to examine effects of BPA and styrene on fertilization success and early development of resulting embryos. Previous research has demonstrated that BPA and styrene decrease successful fertilization and delay development of sea urchins, though no previous studies have examined effects of continuous chemical treatment on S. purpuratus development. We exposed eggs, sperm, or both to environmentally relevant concentrations of BPA or styrene (100 µg/L, 500 µg/L, and 1000 µg/L) to test the hypothesis that continuous treatment would lead to developmental abnormalities. The greatest effect was observed in pluteus larvae development, as the percentage of normal embryos decreased by as much as 80% in high dose chemical treatments (p=