eCite Digital Repository

Disentangling the influence of taxa, behaviour and debris ingestion on seabird mortality


Roman, L and Hardesty, BD and Hindell, MA and Wilcox, C, Disentangling the influence of taxa, behaviour and debris ingestion on seabird mortality, Environmental Research Letters, 15, (12) Article 124071. ISSN 1748-9326 (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence.

DOI: doi:10.1088/1748-9326/abcc8e


Marine debris is a growing threat to hundreds of marine animal species. To understand the consequences of marine debris to wildlife populations, studies must go beyond reporting the incidence of wildlife and debris interactions and aim to quantify the harm resulting from these interactions. Tubenosed seabirds are globally threatened, with a near universal risk of debris ingestion and an unquantified risk of mortality due to eating plastics. In this paper, we explore the mortality risk narrative due to the acute effects of debris ingestion, and quantify behavioural and ecological factors including age, diet and foraging method. We examined ingested debris loads, types and mortality of 972 adult and immature seabirds across 17 albatross, shearwater and prion species in a global seabird biodiversity hotspot. Though age and foraging method interact to influence the incidence and number of items ingested, age and diet were the most important factors influencing mortality. Mortality is influenced by debris load and type of debris ingested and there is selectivity for items that visually resemble a seabirdís prey. Immature birds that forage on cephalopods are more likely to ingest and die from eating debris than are adults. Conversely, the risk of death to seabirds that forage on crustaceans is linked to the number of plastic items ingested and is higher in adults. Debris ingestion is an under-recognised cause of tubenose mortality and is likely negatively affecting rare and threatened species.

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:143245
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-03-08
Last Modified:2021-06-25
Downloads:7 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page