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Temporal trends and interannual variation in plastic ingestion by flesh-footed shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using different sampling strategies


Lavers, JL and Hutton, I and Bond, AL, Temporal trends and interannual variation in plastic ingestion by flesh-footed shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using different sampling strategies, Environmental Pollution, 290 Article 118086. ISSN 0269-7491 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2021 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2021.118086


The world's oceans are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic activities, including significant and rapidly increasing inputs of plastic pollution. Seabirds have long been considered sentinels of ocean health, providing data on physical and chemical pollutants in their marine habitats. However, long-term data that can elucidate important patterns and changes in seabird exposure to marine pollutants are relatively limited but are urgently needed to identify and support effective policy measures to reduce plastic waste. Using up to 12 years of data, we examined the benefits and challenges of different approaches to monitoring plastic in seabirds, and the relationship between plastic and body size parameters. We found the mass and number of ingested plastics per bird varied by sample type, with lavage and road-kill birds containing less plastic (9.179.33 pieces/bird) than beach-washed or otherwise dead birds (27.6232.22 pieces/bird). Beached birds therefore provide data for only a particular subset of the population, mostly individuals in poorer body condition, including those severely impacted by plastics. In addition, the mass and number of plastics in beached birds were more variable, therefore the sample sizes required to detect a change in plastic over time were significantly larger than for lavaged birds. The use of lavaged birds is rare in studies of plastic ingestion due to ethical and methodological implications, and we recommend future work on ingested plastics should focus on sampling this group to ensure data are more representative of a population's overall exposure to plastics.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:seabird ecology, plastic pollution, sampling method, long-term monitoring, Tasman Sea
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Lavers, JL (Dr Jennifer Lavers)
ID Code:146395
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-09-03
Last Modified:2021-11-29

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