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Plastic ingestion is an underestimated cause of death for southern hemisphere albatrosses


Roman, L and Butcher, RG and Stewart, D and Hunter, S and Jolly, M and Kowalski, P and Hardesty, BD and Lenting, B, Plastic ingestion is an underestimated cause of death for southern hemisphere albatrosses, Conservation Letters, 14, (3) Article e12785. ISSN 1755-263X (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:10.1111/conl.12785


Albatrosses are among the world’s most imperiled vertebrates, with 73% of species threatenedwith extinction. Ingestion of plastic is awell-recognized threat among threeNorth Pacific species, but lesser known in the southern hemisphere, where it is considered a minor threat. As plastic entering the ocean is increasing while albatross populations decline, the threat of ocean plastic to albatross populations may be underestimated. We present case studies of 107 beach-cast albatrosses of twelve species, received by wildlife hospitals in Australia and New Zealand, and estimate plastic ingestion and mortality rates for albatrosses in the southern hemisphere. Ingested plastic was present in 5.6% of individuals, and the cause of death in half of these cases. We estimate ingestion of plastic may cause 3.4–17.5% of nearshoremortalities and is worth consideration as a substantial threat to albatross populations. We provide clinical findings and "checklist" methodologies for identifying potential cases of foreign-body gastrointestinal obstruction. We suggest practical policy responses, empowering decision makers to reduce albatross mortality from anthropogenic sources.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:plastic, albatross, veterinary, pollution, marine, balloon, bottle, by-catch, conservation, marine debris, plastic pollution, policy, seabird, threatened species
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:Roman, L (Dr Lauren Roman)
ID Code:143159
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-03-02
Last Modified:2021-09-03
Downloads:15 View Download Statistics

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