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A quantitative analysis linking seabird mortality and marine debris ingestion


Roman, L and Hardesty, BD and Hindell, MA and Wilcox, C, A quantitative analysis linking seabird mortality and marine debris ingestion, Scientific Reports, 9, (1) Article 3202. ISSN 2045-2322 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-018-36585-9


Procellariiformes are the most threatened bird group globally, and the group with the highest frequency of marine debris ingestion. Marine debris ingestion is a globally recognized threat to marine biodiversity, yet the relationship between how much debris a bird ingests and mortality remains poorly understood. Using cause of death data from 1733 seabirds of 51 species, we demonstrate a significant relationship between ingested debris and a debris-ingestion cause of death (dose-response). There is a 20.4% chance of lifetime mortality from ingesting a single debris item, rising to 100% after consuming 93 items. Obstruction of the gastro-intestinal tract is the leading cause of death. Overall, balloons are the highest-risk debris item; 32 times more likely to result in death than ingesting hard plastic. These findings have significant implications for quantifying seabird mortality due to debris ingestion, and provide identifiable policy targets aimed to reduce mortality for threatened species worldwide.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:seabirds, plastic, marine debris
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Roman, L (Dr Lauren Roman)
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:131467
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-03-19
Last Modified:2020-01-06
Downloads:45 View Download Statistics

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