Soledad ÁlvarezMARE Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre · MARE - Madeira
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
Citations since 2017
12 Research Items
The ingestion of microplastics (MPs - plastic particles <5 mm) by planktivorous organisms represents a significant threat to marine food webs. To investigate how seasonality might affect plastic intake in oceanic islands' ecosystems, relative abundances and composition of MPs and mesozooplankton samples collected off Madeira Island (NE Atlantic) be...
The increasing concentration of plastic debris in the oceanic environment represents a significant threat to marine organisms. Their fragmentation in small particles (< 5mm), defined as “microplastics” (MPs), raises concerns about the high likelihood of these contaminants entering marine food webs. The physical resemblance of MPs to zooplankton, an...
Ctenophores are fragile gelatinous organisms whose diversity and distribution are relatively unknown. For the first time, the occurrence of four planktonic species, namely Ocyropsis crystallina, Eurhamphaea vexilligera, Cestum veneris, and Beroe sp., was reported from Madeira Archipelago waters (NE subtropical Atlantic). This report represents the...
Globally, there is growing concern regarding the effects of the increasing anthropogenic pressures in marine communities. Artificial structures such as marinas and aquaculture facilities serve as invasion hotspots; hence, monitoring fouling communities on these structures can be valuable for detecting new invasions. In the current study, 24 settlem...
Here, we first quantify the prey composition of an insular sparrowhawk population, during two stages: incubation-nestling, and post-fledging and dispersion of fledglings. On Madeira, we collected prey remains monthly during two consecutive breeding periods in 51 sparrowhawk nesting territories. Overall, we found 470 individuals of 13 species, of wh...
Marine litter is currently worldwide distributed , and plastic is its principal component. Nevertheless, to date, little is known about how this global threat is affecting the marine coastal areas of the Madeira archipelago (NE Atlantic). In this context, we conducted the first comprehensive survey for marine litter characterization in the region,...
Marine microplastic pollution is an issue of great concern nowadays since high concentrations have been detected in the ocean, mainly in the subtropical gyres that accumulate this type of debris. The long-term effects of this pollution on ecosystems and marine biota are still unknown. The aim of this study is to quantify and characterise microplast...
The archipelago of Madeira (Portugal) is located in the NE Atlantic and belongs to the biogeographical region of Macaronesia. The aquaculture industry is an emerging activity in the island, accounting for 60% of national sea bream production. Given the physical and oceanographic features of this outermost region, and the lack of information regardi...
The aim of this project is to create an observatory to generate quantitative and qualitative data on the impact of microplastics and different pollutants on the beaches of the archipelagos of the Canaries, Cape Verde, Madeira and the Azores. To do this, a program will be developed to monitor microplastics and different contaminants in sand and water on the beaches of the four archipelagos, which will show the degree of existing contamination and its evolution. Studies will also be carried out on the incidence of microplastics in some types of fish and their effect on food chains and ecosystems. The project also aims to contribute to the improvement of public knowledge on the subject of pollution by plastics, including raising awareness among the population, carrying out important dissemination, training and environmental education actions on the marine areas of the four archipelagos.
Litter disposal and accumulation in the marine environment is one of the fastest growing threats for the world’s oceans health. The issue has been highlighted by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP, 2009) and was included in the 11 Descriptors of Good Environmental Status set by Europe’s Marine Strategy Framework directive (2008/56/EC). More recently, the G-7 leaders (during the 41st G-7 Summit, 7-8 June 2015), acknowledged that marine litter poses a global challenge and emphasized on the need to increase effectiveness and intensity of the work to combat marine litter. The presence and extent of plastic debris in the marine environment is of environmental concern because they are potentially bioavailable to a wide range of marine biota. Ingestion and entanglement in marine litter has been reported for a wide variety of organisms, from small zooplanktonic animals to large baleen whales (Kühln et al. 2015). So far, more than 700 species have been observed to have ingested marine plastics (Gall and Thomson, 2015) and the number of occurrences is constantly increasing. In some areas, entire populations are at risk (e.g. Knowlton et al. 2012; Richards and Beger, 2011) with cascading effects that may eventually result in the disruption of key ecosystem function and services (Newmann, 2015). As a result, marine litter adds a significant stressor to marine environments already under pressure from anthropogenic disturbances and given plastics ubiquitous nature this is a global and indiscriminate threat to the health of our seas and oceans. In addition to the ecological consequences listed above, marine litter has considerable socio-economic impacts. Some regional studies showed that the economic impact are extremely high (e.g. Mouat et al. 2010). Currently, it is estimated that about 13 million tonnes of plastic is entering the marine environment every year (Jambeck et al. 2015). Therefore, it is not surprising that plastic debris is commonly observed everywhere in the oceans (Galgani et al. 2015). Although geographically isolated from large population centres, the Azores is not immune from this growing environmental threat. The islands are located at the edge of accumulation zones of floating litter in the Atlantic (Maximenko et al. 2012; Erikssen et al. 2014) and the few studies and coastal clean-ups performed throughout the archipelago, suggest that large amount of macro and micro litter is present on the coastline and on the seafloor (Pham et al. 2013; Pieper, 2013). With the exception of the project AZORLIT (Establishing a Baseline on Marine Litter in the Azores; IUCN- project no P01495), no scientific projects have been dedicated to the study of marine litter in the region. Yet, anecdotal information suggest that many organisms are affected by this problem (e.g. turtles; Barreiros and Raykov, 2014; fish; Barreiros and Guerreiro, 2014; marine birds; Pedro et al. 2013) but consistent monitoring has yet to be undertaken. The presence of marine debris in 25% of the stomachs of turtles (Carreta carreta) analysed by Frick et al.(2009) suggests a clear threat to this species in the Azores and highlights the importance of investigating this topic in more details. This is also true for Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis), where 95% of the juveniles were found to have plastic in their stomachs (Van Franeker and Bried, unpublished data). A recent workshop (“Towards a Solution for Marine Litter in the Azores”) organised in Horta (19-20 June 2015) confirmed there is concern from local stakeholders and highlighted the need for more research in this field. The overall objective of this research proposal will be to provide some solid baseline data on the impact of marine litter on the marine ecosystems of the Azores that will help policy makers to address this problem in the region.