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Entrapment in plastic debris endangers hermit crabs


Lavers, JL and Sharp, PB and Stuckenbrock, S and Bond, AL, Entrapment in plastic debris endangers hermit crabs, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 387 Article 121703. ISSN 0304-3894 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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© 2019 Published by Elsevier. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.121703


Significant quantities of plastic debris pollute nearly all the world’s ecosystems, where it persists for decades and poses a considerable threat to flora and fauna. Much of the focus has been on the marine environment, with little information on the hazard posed by debris accumulating on beaches and adjacent vegetated areas. Here we investigate the potential for beach debris to disrupt terrestrial species and ecosystems on two remote islands. The significant quantities of debris on the beaches, and throughout the coastal vegetation, create a significant barrier which strawberry hermit crabs (Coenobita perlatus) encounter during their daily activities. Around 61,000 (2.447 crabs/m2) and 508,000 crabs (1.117 crabs/m2) are estimated to become entrapped in debris and die each year on Henderson Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, respectively. Globally, there is an urgent need to establish a clear link between debris interactions and population persistence, as loss of biodiversity contributes to ecosystem degradation. Our findings show accumulating debris on these islands has the potential to seriously impact hermit crab populations. This is important for countless other islands worldwide where crabs and debris overlap, as crabs play a crucial role in the maintenance of tropical ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine debris, plastic pollution, hermit crab, entrapment
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:136041
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:33
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-11-28
Last Modified:2020-04-24
Downloads:13 View Download Statistics

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