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Factors influencing the detection of beach plastic debris


Lavers, JL and Oppel, S and Bond, AL, Factors influencing the detection of beach plastic debris, Marine Environmental Research, 119 pp. 245-251. ISSN 0141-1136 (2016) [Refereed Article]



Copyright Statement

2016 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.06.009


Marine plastic pollution is a global problem with considerable ecological and economic consequences. Quantifying the amount of plastic in the ocean has been facilitated by surveys of accumulated plastic on beaches, but existing monitoring programmes assume the proportion of plastic detected during beach surveys is constant across time and space. Here we use a multi-observer experiment to assess what proportion of small plastic fragments is missed routinely by observers, and what factors influence the detection probability of different types of plastic. Detection probability across the various types of plastic ranged from 60 - 100%, and varied considerably by observer, observer experience, and biological material present on the beach that could be confused with plastic. Blue fragments had the highest detection probability, while white fragments had the lowest. We recommend long-term monitoring programmes adopt survey designs accounting for imperfect detection or at least assess the proportion of fragments missed by observers.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:plastic pollution, marine debris, detection probability, South Pacific Gyre, observer effect, beach clean-up
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Lavers, JL (Dr Jennifer Lavers)
ID Code:109547
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:40
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2016-06-22
Last Modified:2018-04-13
Downloads:126 View Download Statistics

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