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The frequency of ingested plastic debris and its effects on body condition of short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) pre-fledging chicks in Tasmania, Australia

Citation

Cousin, HR and Auman, HJ and Alderman, R and Virtue, P, The frequency of ingested plastic debris and its effects on body condition of short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) pre-fledging chicks in Tasmania, Australia, Emu, 115, (1) pp. 6-11. ISSN 0158-4197 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 BirdLife Australia

DOI: doi:10.1071/MU13086

Abstract

In recent years, there have been increasing reports of ingestion of marine plastic debris in seabirds. Our aim was to assess the frequency and effects of ingested plastic debris in pre-fledging Short-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) in Tasmania. We conducted necropsies of 171 Shearwater chicks, confiscated after illegal poaching, to determine the presence of plastic debris in the proventriculus and ventriculus. We also examined whether there was a correlation between body condition (based on body mass and fat-scores) and quantity of plastic ingested (by count and weight). We recorded 1032 ingested plastic particles, consisting of industrial plastic (31%) and user plastic (69%). Most of the Shearwater chicks (96%) contained plastic debris with a mean of 148.1 mgper bird (s.e. 8.1). Most plastic was found in the ventriculus. Light-coloured plastic dominated (63.8%), with the rest medium (22.1%) and dark (14.1%) plastics. We found that total mass of ingested plastic was not significantly related to body condition, or fat-scores or mass individually. Our study highlights the prevalence of plastic pollution in apparently healthy Shearwater chicks and underscores concern regarding the effects of increasing marine pollution on a global scale.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:industrial plastic, marine debris, nurdles, plastic colour, plastic pollution, plastic ingestion, seabirds, shearwater
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal Physiological Ecology
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Author:Cousin, HR (Miss Hannah Cousin)
Author:Auman, HJ (Dr Heidi Auman)
Author:Virtue, P (Associate Professor Patti Virtue)
ID Code:98341
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-02-12
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:0

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