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Plastic, nutrition and pollution; relationships between ingested plastic and metal concentrations in the livers of two Pachyptila seabirds


Roman, L and Kastury, F and Petit, S and Aleman, R and Wilcox, C and Hardesty, BD and Hindell, MA, Plastic, nutrition and pollution; relationships between ingested plastic and metal concentrations in the livers of two Pachyptila seabirds, Scientific Reports, 10, (1) Article 18023. ISSN 2045-2322 (2020) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2020 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-020-75024-6


Naturally occurring metals and metalloids [metal(loid)s] are essential for the physiological functioning of wildlife; however, environmental contamination by metal(loid) and plastic pollutants is a health hazard. Metal(loid)s may interact with plastic in the environment and there is mixed evidence about whether plastic ingested by wildlife affects metal(loid) absorption/assimilation and concentration in the body. We examined ingested plastic and liver concentration of eleven metal(loid)s in two seabird species: fairy (Pachyptila turtur) and slender-billed prions (P. belcheri). We found significant relationships between ingested plastic and the concentrations of aluminium (Al), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in the liver of prions. We investigated whether the pattern of significant relationships reflected plastic-metal(loid) associations predicted in the scientific literature, including by transfer of metals from ingested plastics or malnutrition due to dietary dilution by plastics in the gut. We found some support for both associations, suggesting that ingested plastic may be connected with dietary dilution / lack of essential nutrients, especially iron, and potential transfer of zinc. We did not find a relationship between plastic and non-essential metal(loid)s, including lead. The effect of plastic was minor compared to that of dietary exposure to metal(oid)s, and small plastic loads (< 3 items) had no discernible link with metal(loid)s. This new evidence shows a relationship between plastic ingestion and liver metal(loid) concentrations in free-living wildlife.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:plastic, seabirds, pollution, marine
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Protection and conservation of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Roman, L (Dr Lauren Roman)
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:142651
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-02-03
Last Modified:2021-04-28
Downloads:17 View Download Statistics

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