Article

A study of wrecked Dovekies (Alle alle) in the western North Atlantic highlights the importance of using standardized methods to quantify plastic ingestion

Authors:
  • University of Iceland Research Centre of the Westfjords
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... as direct dumping remain an issue in rural, outport communities (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016;35 Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2017;Henemen, 1988). 36 ...
... This research provides a baseline for plastic ingestion in these three common Newfoundland 30 food fish; Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, and capelin. This research: (1) builds upon and validates 31 the existing preliminary finding of a %FO of 2.45% in Atlantic cod collected in 2015 from the 32 eastern coast of Newfoundland ( Liboiron et al., 2016) to generate a validated, multi-year baseline 33 for plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod of the Northwest Atlantic; and (2) establishes baselines of 34 plastic ingestion in Atlantic salmon and capelin on the island of Newfoundland. Based on a 35 review of English-language, published, scientific literature, no previous studies on the ingestion 36 of plastics by Atlantic salmon or capelin exist. ...
... The copyright holder for this preprint . We used standardized laboratory plastic ingestion protocols identical to Liboiron et al., (2016) to 8 compare previous studies in the province, which in turn have been modified from those used in 9 bird ingestion studies by van Franeker et al., (2011). GI tracts (or whole fish in the case of 10 capelin) were thawed for at least 2 hours prior to dissection. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study reports the first baselines of plastic ingestion for three fish species that are common food fish in Newfoundland, Canada. Species collections occurred between 2015-2016 for Atlantic cod ( Gadus morhua ), Atlantic salmon ( Salmo salar ), and capelin ( Mallotus villosus ). The frequency of occurrence (%FO) of plastic ingestion for both spawning Atlantic salmon ( n =69) and capelin ( n =350) was 0%. Of the 1,010 Atlantic cod collected over two years, 17 individuals had ingested plastics, a %FO of 1.68%. This is the only multi-year investigation of plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod for the Northwest Atlantic, and the first for capelin and salmon in the region. Considering the ecological, economic, and cultural importance of these fish species, this study is the beginning of a longitudinal study of plastic ingestion to detect future changes in contamination levels. Highlights Ingestion rate (%FO) of plastics in Atlantic cod is 1.68% Ingestion rate (%FO) of plastics in Atlantic salmon and capelin is 0% First study of plastic ingestion rates in Atlantic salmon and capelin Multi-year baseline of plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod in the Northwest Atlantic Plastic ingestion rates for three food fish species in Newfoundland, Canada, are low Terms Frequency of occurrence (%FO): the number of individuals in a population or group that have ingested plastics (not indicative of the number of particles ingested per individual)
... The rate and frequency of plastic ingestion can be used to estimate the quantity of plastic ingested by seabird populations, providing information on changes over time. Therefore, a comparison of sampling methods is required to assess whether plastic loads are influenced by the method of sampling as highlighted in several recent studies (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016;Provencher et al., 2017). Despite the increasing number of seabird plastic ingestion studies in recent years, just eight studies compare between sampling methods (Provencher et al., 2017; See Discussion below for details). ...
... Considering whether the collection method for specimens may influence the estimates of plastic ingestion is important to obtain reliable estimates (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016;Provencher et al., 2017). Some studies suggest no differences in plastic loads among sampling methods. ...
... Studies comparing plastic ingestion among collection methods represent only a small number of seabird species, and a plea for more studies in this sense has been made, indicating the little we know about how the collection methods affect ingested plastic detection (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016;Provencher et al., 2017). Our study provides evidence on how plastic ingestion varies according to collection methods in one seabird species; providing warning signs of the potential biases for using stranded animals as bioindicators (for a discussion on sea turtles see Casale et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the increase of literature on seabird plastic ingestion in recent years, few studies have assessed how plastic loads vary according to different sampling methods. Most studies use necropsies of seabirds with a natural cause of death, e.g. beached or predated, to determine plastic loads and monitor marine debris. Sampling naturally dead seabirds may be biased as they have perished because of their intrinsic factors, e.g. poor body condition, high parasite loads, sickness or predation, affecting estimates of plastic loads. However, seabirds killed accidentally may be more representative of the population. Here, we used the short-tailed shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris to test different sampling methods: naturally beached fledglings and accidentally road-killed fledglings after being attracted and grounded by artificial lights. We compared plastic load, body condition, and feeding strategies (through using feathers' δ13C and δ15N isotope niche) between beached and road-killed fledglings. Beached birds showed higher plastic loads, poorer body condition and reduced isotopic variability, suggesting that this group is not a representative subsample of the whole cohort of the fledgling population. Our results might have implications for long-term monitoring programs of seabird plastic ingestion. Monitoring plastic debris through beached birds could overestimate plastic ingestion by the entire population. We encourage the establishment of refined monitoring programs using fledglings grounded by light pollution if available. These samples focus on known cohorts from the same population. The fledgling plastic loads are transferred from parents during parental feeding, accumulating during the chick-rearing period. Thus, these fledglings provide a higher and valuable temporal resolution, which is more useful and informative than unknown life history of beached birds.
... Mass, length, width, and height of plastics were also recorded. Plastics were classified as microplastics (<5 mm), mesoplastics (5-20 mm) or macroplastics (>20 mm) following other studies in the region for comparability Avery-Gomm et al., 2018;Avery-Gomm et al., 2016). Plastics were transferred into labeled scintillation jars for storage and then glass slides for Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) polymer analysis. ...
... However, other studies have found burned plastics in regions further south where burning is not a part of official waste management (Saliu et al., 2018). Avery-Gomm et al. (2016) for example, found that 37% of plastics ingested by dovekies (Alle alle) on the island of Newfoundland south of this study were burned or melted. It is likely these are local plastics, though we cannot be sure. ...
Article
Plastics are not only an environmental concern but also an issue of justice in the Arctic, particularly in Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homelands), as plastics and other contaminants that originate in the south accumulate in the north and have implications for Inuit sovereignty and wellness. This collaborative study finds an average of 0.018 plastics/m² in surface waters in two sites in the eastern Arctic (Tasiujarjuaq in Nunavut near Iqaluit and southwest Greenland offshore from Qaqortoq and Narsaq). A comparison with other studies shows this abundance of plastics is lesser than abundances reported further north in the Arctic, but greater than adjacent waters further south. However, within and across study areas at similar latitudes, there does not appear to be a significant difference in plastic abundance. Some characteristics of recovered plastics such as morphology and colour support local origins, while others support long range transport. Research moving forward should consider relative scales in spatial trends of plastic abundance. The discussion concludes by reflecting on the methods and findings in terms of their role in Inuit governance and research relationships, including elements of research personnel, permitting, categorization, measurement, and reporting findings. Our goal is to provide insights of where we, as scientists, may choose to intentionally move our scientific work towards reconciliation while we produce knowledge about environmental pollution in Inuit Nunangat and the Arctic broadly.
... One of our objectives was to outline a standardized set of methods for measuring and reporting accumulated plastics in marine megafauna to help shape future studies of ingested plastics, contribute to our global understanding of marine pollution, and facilitate easier comparisons among studies, regions, and species. 84 With this is mind, we make several recommendations here that are specic to seabirds, but useful for all taxonomic groups where ingested pollution is studied. ...
... While simply reporting plastics within a diet study was once sufficient, the growing interest in marine plastics and their impacts, and purpose-driven publications on plastic accumulation in marine biota now demand a higher standard. Standards for reporting data are required to make studies comparable 84 and to provide data suitable for statistically rigorous meta-analyses. These standards should include consistent reporting of the collection and sampling method, type of debris, the mass, the number, the colour, and the characteristics of the material, as well as the method of sorting and identifying materials. ...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic pollution has become one of the largest environmental challenges we currently face. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has listed it as a critical problem, comparable to climate change, demonstrating both the scale and degree of the environmental problem. Mortalities due to entanglement in plastic fishing nets and bags have been reported for marine mammals, turtles and seabirds, and to date over 690 marine species have been reported to ingest plastics. The body of literature documenting plastic ingestion by marine megafauna (i.e. seabirds, turtles, fish and marine mammals) has grown rapidly over the last decade, and it is expected to continue grow as researchers explore the ecological impacts of marine pollution. Unfortunately, a cohesive approach by the scientific community to quantify plastic ingestion by wildlife is lacking, which is now hindering spatial and temporal comparisons between and among species/ organisms. Here, we discuss and propose standardized techniques, approaches and metrics for reporting debris ingestion that are applicable to most large marine vertebrates. As a case study, we examine how the use of standardized methods to report ingested debris in Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) has enabled long term and spatial trends in plastic pollution to be studied. Lastly, we outline standardized metric recommendations for reporting ingested plastics in marine megafauna, with the aim to harmonize the data that are available to facilitate large-scale comparisons and meta-analyses of plastic accumulation in a variety of taxa. If standardized methods are adopted, future plastic ingestion research will be better able to inform questions related to the impacts of plastics across taxonomic, ecosystem and spatial scales.
... Unfortunately, a lack of standardized methods for sample collection along with comparable processing and reporting can undermine broad-scale assessments of the extent and impact of marine plastic debris on marine biota. The importance of lab processing methods was recently illustrated when two studies documenting plastic ingestion in birds from the same stranding event could not be compared because they followed different methods (Fife et al. 2015;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). Additionally, some studies have not processed birds and presented data in the same way, such as reporting differences between sexes or among age classes (Provencher et al. 2014;Roman et al. 2016). ...
... In addition to visual examination, Raman spectrometry or Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) can be used to identify the polymer types of plastic (Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). Such polymer identification may also be important when assessing which plastic-associated contaminants may be absorbed by wildlife as a result of accumulated plastics in the gut (Rochman et al. 2014;Koelmans et al. 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Marine plastic pollution is an environmental contaminant of significant concern. There is a lack of consistency in sample collection and processing that continues to impede meta-analyses and largescale comparisons across time and space. This is true for most taxa, including seabirds, which are the most studied megafauna group with regards to plastic ingestion research. Consequently, it is difficult to evaluate the impacts and extent of plastic contamination in seabirds fully and accurately, and to make inferences about species for which we have little or no data. We provide a synthesized set of recommendations specific for seabirds and plastic ingestion studies that include best practices in relation to sample collection, processing, and reporting, as well as highlighting some “cross-cutting” methods. We include guidance for how carcasses, regurgitations, and pellets should be handled and treated to prevent cross-contamination, and a discussion of what size class of microplastics can be assessed in each sample type. Although we focus on marine bird samples, we also include standardized techniques to remove sediment and biological material that are generalizable to other taxa. Lastly, metrics and data presentation of ingested plastics are briefly reviewed in the context of seabird studies.
... It remains to be explored whether smaller eggs are related to poorer breeding success, or whether there are other negative consequences of Hg contamination, but the few existing studies clearly show that even species living in supposedly pristine environments, such as the Little Auk, are not free of contaminants. Recent studies have revealed microplastics in Little Auks (Amélineau et al. 2016a;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016); although overall the number and mass of plastics ingested was small, these may be increasing. Arctic seabirds thus continue to face threats from a rapidly changing marine environment (Fife et al. 2015;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). ...
... Recent studies have revealed microplastics in Little Auks (Amélineau et al. 2016a;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016); although overall the number and mass of plastics ingested was small, these may be increasing. Arctic seabirds thus continue to face threats from a rapidly changing marine environment (Fife et al. 2015;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
The Little Auk Alle alle is a small planktivorous auk breeding colonially in the High Arctic. Owing to its large population size and bi-environmental lifestyle, resulting in the large-scale transport of matter from sea to land, the Little Auk is one of the most important components of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the Arctic. As a result of globalization, which facilitates access to remote areas of the Earth, a growing number of studies is being dedicated to this endemic Arctic seabird. Research has focussed primarily on the importance of the Little Auk as an ecological indicator reacting to the climatic and oceanological changes that are particularly evident in the Arctic as a result of Arctic amplification (warming is more rapid in the Arctic than in any other region on Earth). Importantly, the species is also used as a model to investigate matter and energy flow through the ecosystem, mate choice, parental care and biological rhythms. Here, we review the natural history of the Little Auk, highlighting studies with the potential to provide answers to universal questions regarding the response of seabirds to climate variability and avian reproductive behaviour, e.g. threshold of foraging flexibility in response to environmental variability, carry-over effects between the breeding and non-breeding periods, the reasons for the transition from bi- to uni-parental care, parental coordination mechanisms.
... Various factors were related to the rate of plastic ingestion using a generalised linear model (GLM) with a binomial distribution. This method has been used previously to analyse debris ingestion by sea turtles and birds (Burnham and Anderson 2003;Casale et al. 2016;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). The package MuMIn was used to measure variables against the model of best fit. ...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic marine debris is increasingly recognised as one of the greatest threats to global oceans, and the humans who depend on them. This study documents plastic ingestion in 24 species caught or sold for human consumption in the South Pacific. Fish were collected from local fishermen and markets in remote locations, including French Polynesia, Lord Howe Island and Henderson Island (Pitcairn group). Gastrointestinal tracts of 126 fish were visually examined and plastic was found in 7.9% of individual fish and 25% of species. The plastics were mostly microplastics (fragments, nurdles and rope). There was no significant difference in plastic ingestion in relation to feeding style, length, region or species. This is concerning as plastic appears to be widespread across species, lifestyles and habitats. This is the first report of plastic in South Pacific fish, raising concerns about the transfer of pollutants in a region that is largely oceanic and heavily dependent on seafood. The remote locations of the study also provide evidence of the widespread nature of this issue.
... This study followed methods used by Liboiron et al. (2016) (which were in turn adapted from van Franeker et al. (2011) and Avery-Gomm et al. (2016)) to allow for comparability across studies done in the region of Newfoundland. The bagged GI tracts were thawed in cold water for approximately 30 min prior to dissection. ...
Article
Full-text available
Silver hake, (Merluccius bilinearis), contributes significant biomass to Northwest Atlantic ecosystems. The in- cidence of plastic ingestion for 134 individuals collected from Newfoundland, Canada was examined through visual examination of gastrointestinal contents and Raman spectrometry. We found a frequency of occurrence of ingestion of 0%. Through a comprehensive literature review of globally published fish ingestion studies, we found our value to be consistent with 41% (n = 100) of all reported fish ingestion rates. We could not statis- tically compare silver hake results to other species due to low sample sizes in other studies (less than n = 20) and a lack of standardized sampling methods. We recommend that further studies should 1) continue to report 0% plastic ingestion rates and 2) should describe location and species-specific traits that may contribute to 0% ingestion rates, particularly in locations where fish consumption has cultural and economic significance.
... However, Fife et al. (2015) found only 10 pieces of plastic fragments or fishing line in nine birds so comparison was limited by sample size. The 30% incidence of plastic in the sample considered by Avery-Gomm et al. 2016 was comprised of 42.3% hard plastic fragments, so the overall occurrence of hard plastic was 12.8% (42.3% of 30%). Dovekies differed from Cassin's Auklets in lower incidence of hard plastic, only one nurdle, and more user plastic in threadlike and sheetlike categories (Van Franeker and Meijboom, 2002), suggesting either differences in environmental plastic availability in the Atlantic or different foraging strategy from Cassin's Auklets. ...
Article
Oceanic plastic debris found in the digestive tracts of seabirds includes industrial plastic pellets and post-consumer user plastics. We examined whether the amount and type of plastic ingested by Cassin's Auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) is changing by surveying the stomach contents of 171 Cassin's Auklets stranded along the Washington and Oregon coasts in 2014. We found that 41.5% of the birds contained plastic in their ventriculi, similar to values from the North Subarctic Pacific reported in the 1980s. Industrial pellets were found in 22.8% of our samples, and accounted for 28.1% of all the plastic pieces found. Industrial pellets tended to be larger than pieces of user plastic and accounted for 40.2% of total plastic weight. These industrial pellets were significantly smaller than those found in other species, suggesting either that Cassin's Auklets selected smaller plastic particles or that plastic was retained in ventriculi and worn down.
... Such information could facilitate predictions of a population's plastic ingestion risk (Dell'Ariccia et al., 2017;Savoca et al., 2016;Tavares et al., 2017;Wilcox et al., 2015), so that high-risk populations could be targeted for research and conservation actions. At present, our ability to predict plastic ingestion is limited by gaps in the literature and the use of non-standardized methods, which complicate comparisons (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016). This is a severe limitation that can be addressed by directing baseline research towards documenting plastic ingestion in understudied taxa and regions, and the widespread adoption of standardized methods for collection, analysis and reporting . ...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic is an increasingly pervasive marine pollutant. Concomitantly, the number of studies documenting plastic ingestion in wildlife is accelerating. Many of these studies aim to provide a baseline against which future levels of plastic ingestion can be compared, and are motivated by an underlying interest in the conservation of their study species and ecosystems. Although this research has helped to raise the profile of plastic as a pollutant of emerging concern, there is a disconnect between research examining plastic pollution and wildlife conservation. We present ideas to further discussion about how plastic ingestion research could benefit wildlife conservation by prioritising studies that elucidates the significance of plastic pollution as a population-level threat, identifies vulnerable populations, and evaluates strategies for mitigating impacts. The benefit of plastic ingestion research to marine wildlife can be improved by establishing a clearer understanding of how discoveries will be integrated into conservation and policy actions.
... hard plastics from a wide array of products), fibres (i.e. from clothing), microbeads (i.e. from personal care products) or other. In order to evaluate the state of plastic erosion each particle was assessed for: discolouration, fraying, fracturing, pits and grooves, and adhered particles (Corcoran et al., 2009), as well as burning or melting (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016). Raman micro-spectrometry (Reinshaw InVia with 830 nm excitation) was conducted only on particles obtained from Atlantic cod collected in 2016, Atlantic salmon and capelin. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study reports the first baselines of plastic ingestion for three fish species that are common commercial and sustenance food fish in Newfoundland. Species collections occurred between 2015 and 2016 for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and capelin (Mallotus villosus). The frequency of occurrence (%FO) of plastic ingestion for both Atlantic salmon (n = 69) and capelin (n = 350) was 0%. Of the 1010 Atlantic cod individuals collected over two years, 17 individuals had ingested plastics, a %FO of 1.68%. This is the only multi-year investigation of plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod for the Northwest Atlantic, and the first baseline of plastic ingestion in Atlantic salmon and capelin on the island of Newfoundland. Considering the ecological, economic, and cultural importance of these fish species, this study is the beginning of a longitudinal study of plastic ingestion to detect any future changes in contamination levels.
... Such information could facilitate predictions of a population's plastic ingestion risk (Dell'Ariccia et al., 2017;Savoca et al., 2016;Tavares et al., 2017;Wilcox et al., 2015), so that high-risk populations could be targeted for research and conservation actions. At present, our ability to predict plastic ingestion is limited by gaps in the literature and the use of non-standardized methods, which complicate comparisons (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016). This is a severe limitation that can be addressed by directing baseline research towards documenting plastic ingestion in understudied taxa and regions, and the widespread adoption of standardized methods for collection, analysis and reporting . ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Plastic is an increasingly pervasive marine pollutant. Concomitantly, the number of studies documenting plastic ingestion in wildlife is accelerating. Many of these studies aim to provide a baseline against which future levels of plastic ingestion can be compared, and are motivated by an underlying interest in the conservation of their study species and ecosystems. Although this research has helped to raise the profile of plastic as a pollutant of emerging concern, there is a disconnect between research examining plastic pollution and wildlife conservation. We present ideas to further discussion about how plastic ingestion research could benefit wildlife conservation by prioritising studies that elucidates the significance of plastic pollution as a population-level threat, identifies vulnerable populations, and evaluates strategies for mitigating impacts. The benefit of plastic ingestion research to marine wildlife can be improved by establishing a clearer understanding of how discoveries will be integrated into conservation and policy actions.
... Various factors were related to the rate of plastic ingestion using a generalised linear model (GLM) with a binomial distribution. This method has been used previously to analyse debris ingestion by sea turtles and birds (Burnham and Anderson 2003;Casale et al. 2016;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). The package MuMIn was used to measure variables against the model of best fit. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Plastic marine debris is increasingly recognized as one of the greatest threats to global oceans, and the humans who depend on them. This study documents plastic ingestion in 24 species caught or sold for human consumption in the South Pacific. Fish were collected from local fishermen and markets in remote locations, including French Polynesia, Lord Howe Island and Henderson Island (Pitcairn group). Gastrointestinal tracts of 126 fish were visually examined and plastic was found in 7.9% of individual fish and 25% of species. The plastics were mostly microplastics (fragments, nurdles and rope). There was no significant difference in plastic ingestion in relation to feeding style, length, region or species. This is concerning as plastic appears to be widespread across species, lifestyles and habitats. This is the first report of plastic in South Pacific fish, raising concerns about the transfer of pollutants in a region that is largely oceanic and heavily dependent on seafood. The remote locations of the study also provide evidence of the widespread nature of this issue.
... While marine birds often ingest a variety of polymer types in this region of the world (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016), information was not available on the polymer types for the plastics reported in this study. Importantly, chemical concentrations in plastic debris can vary with polymer type Rochman et al., 2013). ...
Article
While marine animals are exposed to environmental contaminants via their prey, because plastic pollution in the aquatic environment can concentrate some chemicals, ingested plastics are thought to increase the exposure of biota to contaminants. Currently, in the literature there are contradictory results relating to how higher levels of ingested plastics by birds may lead to higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs). To date none of these have incorporated known Toxic Equivalency Factors (TEFs) for non-ortho and mono-ortho congeners of PCB which is critical to assessing the potential effects from PCBs. We examined northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) from the Labrador Sea region Canada, and the ingested plastics from these same birds for comparative PCB concentrations. We found no significant correlations between the PCB concentrations in the birds and the mass or number of retained ingested plastic pieces in the stomach, this held true when PCBs were considered by a number of different ways, including Σ4PCB, ΣPCB, lower-chlorinated, high-chlorinated, non-ortho PCB, and mono-ortho congeners. PCB concentrations were lower in plastics as compared with livers. We found significant differences in congener profiles between the ingested plastics and seabird livers suggesting that while plastics do not contribute to the PCB concentrations, there may be some interactions between plastics and the chemicals that the birds are exposed to via ingested plastics.
... It is also important to note that we visually identified the pieces found in the guano and did not use Raman spectroscopy or FTIR as other studies have been able to employ. Thus, while we cannot confirm that all the pieces are indeed plastics, other studies have shown that plastic polymers do represent a fairly large component of the micro debris items in birds (Amélineau et al., 2016;Avery-Gomm et al., 2016). ...
Article
Plastic pollution is global environmental contaminant. Plastic particulates break down into smaller fragments in the environment, and these small pieces are now commonly found to be ingested by animals. To date, most plastic ingestion studies have focused on assessing retained plastics or regurgitated plastics, but it is likely that animals also excrete plastic and other debris items. We examined the terminal portion of the gastrointestinal tract of a seabird known to commonly ingest plastics, the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), to determine if seabirds excrete microplastics and other debris via their guano. We also examine how guano collections may be used as an indicator of retained plastics. The frequency of occurrence of microplastics did not correlate between the gut and faecal precursor samples, but there was a positive relationship between the number of pieces of plastics in the gut and the number of microplastics in the guano. Our findings suggest that seabirds are acting as vectors of microplastics and debris in the marine environment where their guano accumulates around their colonies. This transport of microplastics and debris by colonial seabirds needs to be further examined, and considered when designing environmental monitoring for microplastics in regions where seabird colonies are found.
... Refs. [21,22]). ...
Article
Microplastic (MP) studies in freshwater environments are gaining attention due to the huge quantities of plastic particles reported from lakes and rivers and the potential for negative impacts in these environments. Different units have been used to report MP densities, which makes it difficult to compare data and can result in reports of extremely high concentrations that do not reflect the original sample size. We recommended that the density of MPs from bulk samples be reported as number L⁻¹, while density from net samples should be reported as number m⁻³. If the density of MPs from net samples is expressed on an areal basis, values should be reported as number/1000 m², and not as number km⁻². Spectroscopy (ATR-μFT-IR and μRAMAN) and Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography coupled to Mass Spectrometry are techniques that could be used for quantitative identification of the various types of polymers in MP particles.
... Plastic ingestion has become an expanding field of research that faces several challenges including: i) collection and standardization of reliable data on plastics using valuable biological metrics (e.g. mass); ii) linking isolated information from regurgitations, stomach contents, stranding events and experiments from species to populations, with ecological questions; iii) multidisciplinary collaboration to enhance cross-field communication (Avery-Gomm et al., 2016Provencher et al., 2017). We have provided evidence of the interplay between nutrition and plastic ingestion, yet the intricacies of these relationships require further examination. ...
Article
Although the perils of plastics to living organisms including humans have been neglected for decades, they have recently been recognized as a major environmental problem worldwide. Little progress has been made on understanding the factors that drive species' and populations' susceptibilities to the ingestion of plastic. Here, we propose using nutritional ecology as a multidisciplinary framework for bridging the gaps that link nutrition, behavior, plastics, physiology and ecology. We show that nutritional niches are tightly linked to plastic ingestion, illustrating the application of our framework in the context of nutritional niche theory, habitat-specific foraging from species to populations, and transfer patterns in food webs.
... None of the papers, except for a recent companion paper (Teboul et al. 2021) to Drever et al. (2018), provided more detailed information on plastics types. More advanced analytical techniques such as Raman and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy have recently been used to confirm visual sorting and helped with finer scale characterization of polymer types (Song et al. 2015;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016;Shim et al. 2017;Teboul et al. 2021;Veerasingam et al. 2021). Since different polymers release and absorb different chemicals, determining the types of contaminants shorebirds are exposed to once plastics are ingested is important when identifying potential sublethal or long-term consequences of plastic ingestion (Provencher et al. 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
Concerns about the impact of plastics pollution on the environment have been growing since the 1970s. Marine debris has reportedly entangled and/or been ingested by 914 marine species ranging from microinvertebrates to large marine mammals. Shorebirds could have a high potential to be exposed to and ingest plastics pollution, as many species migrate long distances and periodically concentrate around shorelines, coastal areas, and estuaries that can have elevated levels of plastics pollution. Currently, little is understood about plastics exposure, frequency of occurrence, and potential impacts relating to shorebirds. In this study, we catalogued and reviewed available studies across the globe that examined plastics pollution in shorebirds. We then quantified relevant traits of species and their environments to explore how shorebirds may be exposed to plastics pollution. Of 1106 samples from 26 shorebird species described within 16 studies that examined plastics ingestion, 53% of individuals contained some form of plastics pollution. Overall, Haematopodidae (oystercatchers) had the highest frequency of occurrence (FO) of plastics, followed by Recurvirostridae (avocets), Scolopacidae (sandpipers, phalaropes, godwits, curlews), and Charadriidae (plovers). Plastics FO was much greater among species that migrated across marine areas (either oceanic or coastal) than those species that used continental flyways. Species that foraged at sea, on mudflats, or on beaches, had higher average FO of plastics ingestion than species than foraged in upland, or freshwater environments. Finally, species that used a sweeping foraging mode showed higher levels of ingested plastics and contained a far greater number of plastic pieces than all other techniques. These conclusions are based on a limited number of species and samples, with the distribution of samples skewed taxonomically and geographically. Using the combined knowledge of known shorebirds-plastics interactions and shorebird ecology, we present a hierarchical approach to identifying shorebirds that may be more vulnerable and susceptible to plastics ingestion. We provide recommendations on sampling protocols and future areas of research.
... Incidence of plastic ingestion is particularly high among the procellariids (albatross, shearwaters, petrels, and fulmars; Lavers and Bond, 2016;Kain et al., 2016;Avery-Gomm et al., 2018), but alcids, gulls, kittiwakes, gannets, cormorants and eiders are also known to ingest plastic, with many other species not yet properly assessed (O'Hanlon et al., 2017;Provencher et al., 2015). The consequences of exposure to ingested plastic are not well understood, but effects likely include impaired digestion, reduced nutrient consumption, damage and blockages in the digestive tract, toxicosis, and co-transport of toxic substances on the surface of consumed plastic (Derraik, 2002;Cole et al., 2013;Avery-Gomm et al., 2016;Lavers and Bond, 2016). Marine plastic is also a cause of entanglement, for example, in the form of drifting "ghost nets" (Derraik, 2002). ...
Article
Marine environments are subject to a range of human disturbances. Identifying effective conservation strategies, in order to manage or mitigate the negative impacts of human activities, requires a way to first identify and evaluate the impact of activities on ecosystem components. Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) techniques such as the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) offer a way to systematically evaluate and integrate stakeholder opinion in order to set priorities and make decisions. With a goal to synthesize current knowledge of the potential impacts of human activity on breeding and non-breeding seabirds in the western North Atlantic Ocean, we present a case study involving the use of AHP to assess sensitivity of species to such hazards as: fisheries bycatch, oiling, light pollution, vessel traffic, marine debris, and offshore wind turbines. Based on responses from ten North Atlantic seabird experts, fisheries bycatch (particularly when involving suspended gill nets) was identified as the greatest risk across a wide range of species, with an overall relative value of 0.47 ± SE 0.026. Oiling risk was the second most highly ranked (0.26 ± 0.026, of which 0.214 corresponded with surface oil, 0.044 with oil and gas platform interactions), and was considered to have the greatest potential impact on alcids (Common and Thick-billed Murre, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Dovekie). Offshore wind turbines (0.097 ± 0.022), marine debris (0.08 ± 0.016), light pollution (0.058 ± 0.0077), and traffic (0.042 ± 0.0053) were considered to be less serious risks for seabirds than fisheries bycatch and oiling. In addition to demonstrating how relative risk can be quantified using a multicriteria decision analysis technique such as AHP, we summarize the sensitivities of fourteen seabirds and suggest ways in which multicriteria decision analysis can enhance conservation planning.
... However, except for more incidental reports, the identification of plastic polymers is still relative scarce in marine megafauna (e.g. Yamashita et al. 2011;Amélineau et al. 2016;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016;Tanaka et al. 2019, Eriksson & Burton 2003Pham et al. 2017;Rizzi et al. 2019). Data on the composition of polymer types can be useful, when discussing potential toxic consequences of plastic ingestion, as different plastic types can be related to different substances added to the polymer . ...
Thesis
Full-text available
In the framework of the EU JPI PLASTOX project, this PhD project focused on the effects of ingested plastic on marine wildlife and in particular the northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis). Plastic ingestion by fulmars was studied on Iceland and on Svalbard. Trophic transfer of plastic between predators and their prey was explored, by quantifying plastics ingested by prey fish from the Arctic Ocean and the North Sea. Ingested plastics were categorized according to their material characteristics. A mixture of relevant microplastics was created to be used in environmental impact studies. Experiments were conducted to investigate the transfer of chemicals from ingested plastic to northern fulmars. Furthermore an updated literature overview of species affected by plastics is provided.
... As in some other species (Acampora et al. 2014;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016;Krug et al. 2021), there was no relationship between either nutritional condition or body mass and mass of ingested plastic in Northern Fulmars. However, that does not preclude a potential negative effect of plastic ingestion on the nutritional condition of younger birds at the nest, as observed in fledglings of other Procellariiformes (Lavers et al. 2014). ...
Article
Marine birds are frequently found dead on beaches, either from natural or from anthropogenic causes. Complete necropsies of those carcasses can provide valuable information, particularly for pelagic species, such as Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) and shearwaters, which come to land only to breed and for which information on diseases that may affect them is, therefore, sparse. Between 2000 and 2012, 315 carcasses of four species of Procellariiformes (173 Northern Fulmars, 89 Great Shearwaters [Ardenna gravis], 50 Sooty Shearwaters [Ardenna grisea], and three Cory's Shearwaters [Calonectris diomedea]) were collected on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, an isolated island near the edge of the continental shelf. A complete necropsy, including examination for the presence of ingested plastic, was performed on all carcasses. Most (70%) of these birds were immature. The cause of death was undetermined in 22% (n=70) of the birds: 36% (62/173) of the Northern Fulmars, 4% (4/89) of the Great Shearwaters, 6% (3/50) of the Sooty Shearwaters, and 33% (1/3) of the Cory's Shearwaters. Emaciation was considered the primary cause of death in 91% of the remaining 245 birds: 87% (97/111) of the Northern Fulmars, 92% (78/85) of the Great Shearwaters, 100% (47/47) of the Sooty Shearwaters, and 100% (2/2) of the Cory's Shearwaters. Notable primary causes of death other than emaciation included mycobacteriosis and neoplasia in Northern Fulmars and transmural parasitic proventriculitis in Great Shearwaters. For Northern Fulmars, nutritional condition (as determined semiquantitatively) was compared with other parameters. Birds in good nutritional condition had heavier body mass and flight muscle mass than those in poor nutritional condition (P<0.01). More adults were in poor nutritional condition than expected by chance (91%; χ2 = 8.23, P<0.01), whereas only 57% of immature birds were in poor condition. There was no relationship between nutritional condition and sex or mass of ingested plastic. Our study provides information on some previously unsuspected health threats in Procellariiformes.
... The ability to predict the effect of plastic ingestion on seabird species is limited by the lack of research on a variety of species (Avery-Gomm et al. 2016). This is especially important for understudied species with a high conservation status. ...
... Several earlier studies (e.g. Yamashita et al. 2011;Amélineau et al. 2016;Avery-Gomm et al. 2016;Pham et al. 2017;Tanaka et al. 2019;Rizzi et al. 2019) provided some information, but on the larger scale, the identification of plastic polymers in marine megafauna is still relatively scarce. Data on the composition of polymer types is needed to evaluate potential toxic consequences of plastic ingestion because different plastic types contain different types of additives, leaching behaviour and degradation products (Lithner et al. 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Although ingestion of plastic by tubenosed seabirds has been documented regularly, identification of the polymer composition of these plastics has rarely been described. Polymer assessment may assist in identifying sources and may indicate risks from additives occurring in specific types of polymers. Using known test materials, two identification methods Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and near infrared spectroscopy (FTIR and NIR) were compared. Although both methods were found to be similarly suitable for identification of plastic polymers, a significant difference was observed in identification of natural materials. FTIR frequently misclassified natural materials as being a synthetic polymer. Within our results, an 80% match score threshold functioned best to distinguish between natural items and synthetics. Using NIR, the historical variability of plastics ingested by northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) from the Dutch sector of the North Sea was analysed for three time periods since the 1980s. For the more recent decade, variability between fulmars from different regions in the northeast Atlantic was investigated. Regional variation was further explored by analysing plastics obtained from the stomachs of southern hemisphere relatives of the fulmar (southern fulmar, cape petrel, snow petrel) and Wilson’s storm petrel. Results show that proportional abundance of polymer types in these seabirds is closely related to the plastic categories that they ingest (e.g. pellets, foam, fragments). The uptake of different plastic categories and related polymer types most likely reflects spatial and temporal variations in availability rather than ingestion preferences of the birds.
Article
This paper responds to a Perspective by B. van Veelen and J. Hasselbalch on my paper “Whither Plastics?”. It sets out why van Veelen and Hasselbalch are in error in alleging that the paper conflated and misrepresented data; disregarded academic social science research on plastics; promoted over-simplistic solutions to a complex set of problems; and focussed solely on behavioural issues rather than industry contributions. Here the relevant data from BP's “Energy Outlook” (2019 edition) are again set out [BP Energy Outlook, 2019 edition, BP plc, 2019] [1]; references discussed (they include several in common with those provided by van Veelen and Hasselbalch but go back far longer and are more comprehensive); the whole range of actual and possible solutions mentioned (not just behavioural changes); and provides more specific information on potential health issues posed by plastics ingestion and inhalation scarcely mentioned by van Veelen and Hasselbalch. This response concludes that van Veelen and Hasselbalch have fallen well short of giving “Whither Plastics?” an accurate portrayal.
Article
Full-text available
The ubiquitous pollution of the environment with microplastics, a diverse suite of contaminants, is of growing concern for science and currently receives considerable public, political, and academic attention. The potential impact of microplastics in the environment has prompted a great deal of research in recent years. Many diverse methods have been developed to answer different questions about microplastic pollution, from sources, transport, and fate in the environment, and about effects on humans and wildlife. These methods are often insufficiently described, making studies neither comparable nor reproducible. The proliferation of new microplastic investigations and cross-study syntheses to answer larger scale questions are hampered. This diverse group of 23 researchers think these issues can begin to be overcome through the adoption of a set of reporting guidelines. This collaboration was created using an open science framework that we detail for future use. Here, we suggest harmonized reporting guidelines for microplastic studies in environmental and laboratory settings through all steps of a typical study, including best practices for reporting materials, quality assurance/quality control, data, field sampling, sample preparation, microplastic identification, microplastic categorization, microplastic quantification, and considerations for toxicology studies. We developed three easy to use documents, a detailed document, a checklist, and a mind map, that can be used to reference the reporting guidelines quickly. We intend that these reporting guidelines support the annotation, dissemination, interpretation, reviewing, and synthesis of microplastic research. Through open access licensing (CC BY 4.0), these documents aim to increase the validity, reproducibility, and comparability of studies in this field for the benefit of the global community.
Article
Full-text available
Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy has been extensively used in microplastic (MP) pollution research since 2004. The aim of this review is to discuss and highlight the recent advances in FTIR (spectroscopy and chemical imaging) techniques that are used to characterize various polymer types of MPs and to trace their fate and transport in different environmental matrices. More than 400 research papers dealing with FTIR techniques in MP pollution research, which are published between January 2010 and December 2019, have been identified from the Scopus and Web of Science databases. The MPs present in sediment, water (marine and freshwater), biota, air/dust, waste water treatment plants and salt are further classified according to (1) characterization and identification, (2) weathering and aging, (3) ecotoxicology, and (4) analytical methods. The results revealed that the ATR-FTIR technique is mostly used to identify and characterize the MPs found in water and sediment. The µFTIR (FTIR imaging) is extensively used to study the ingestion of MPs in biota (both marine and freshwater). In this article, we have summarized the current knowledge of application of FTIR spectroscopy to MP research and provided insights to future challenges for understanding the risk of MPs.
Article
Full-text available
The protection and promotion of healthy wildlife populations is emerging as a shared goal among stakeholders in the face of unprecedented environmental threats. Accordingly, there are growing demands for the generation of actionable wildlife health information. Wildlife health surveillance is a connected system of knowledge that generates data on a range of factors that influence health. Canada recently approved the Pan-Canadian Approach to Wildlife Health that describes challenges facing wildlife health programs and provides a path forward for modernizing our approach. This scoping review was undertaken to describe the range of peer-reviewed Canadian wildlife health surveillance literature within the context of the challenges facing wildlife health programs and to provide a quantitative synthesis of evidence to establish baselines, identify gaps, and inform areas for growth. This review describes patterns related to species, location, authorship/funding, objectives, and methodology. Five areas are identified that have the potential to propel the field of wildlife health: representativeness, expanded/diversified collaboration, community engagement, harmonization, and a shift to a solutions-focused and One Health mindset. This scoping review provides a synopsis of 10 years of Canadian wildlife health surveillance, challenges us to envision the future of successful wildlife health surveillance, and provides a benchmark from which we can measure change.
Article
Full-text available
This review quantifies plastic interaction in marine biota. Firstly, entanglement and ingestion records for all marine birds, mammals, turtles, fish, and invertebrate species, are summarized from 747 studies. Marine debris affected 914 species through entanglement and/or ingestion. Ingestion was recorded for 701 species, entanglement was documented for 354 species. Secondly, the frequency of occurrence of ingestion per species (Sp-%FO) was extracted for marine birds, mammals and turtles. Thirdly, for seabird species, average numbers of plastics ingested per individual were determined. Highest Sp-%FO and average number of plastics were found in tubenosed seabirds with 41% of all birds analysed having plastics, on average 9.9 particles per bird. The Sp-%FO and average number of ingested particles is lower for most other species. However, for certain species, ingestion rates of litter are reason for serious concern. Standardized methods are crucial for future studies, to generate datasets that allow higher level ecosystem analyses.
Preprint
Full-text available
Silver hake, ( Merluccius bilinearis ), contributes significant biomass to Northwest Atlantic ecosystems. The incidence of plastic ingestion for 134 individuals collected from Newfoundland, Canada was examined through visual examination of gastrointestinal contents and Raman spectrometry. We found a frequency of occurrence of ingestion of 0%. Through a comprehensive literature review of globally published fish ingestion studies, we found our value to be consistent with 41% ( n =100) of all reported fish ingestion rates. We could not statistically compare silver hake results to other species due to low sample sizes in other studies (less than n =20) and a lack of standardized sampling methods. We recommend that further studies should 1) continue to report 0% plastic ingestion rates and 2) should describe location and species-specific traits that may contribute to 0% ingestion rates, particularly in locations where fish consumption has cultural and economic significance.
Article
The interaction of anthropogenic litter (by incorporation litter in nests, ingestion, and entanglement) with birds was systematically reviewed using Google Scholar database. A ‘black-list’ of 258 species was compiled. Among them 206 (79.8%) were seabirds. Four seabird orders (Gaviiformes, Phaetontiformes, Procellariformes, Sphenisciformes) showed the highest percentage of interacting species. At family level, more than 70% of species of Gaviidae, Diomedeidae, Sulidae, Stercoraridae and Alcidae were involved in interactions with litter. We observed (i) a significant correlation between Scholar recurrences and species citations about anthropogenic litter only when considering seabirds; (ii) a low number of references before 1981 with a bimodal pattern showing a first peak in 1986-90 and a progressively increasing trend in the 2000s. Regarding the type of interaction, there was a significantly higher percentage of species involved in ingestion when compared to the percentage involved in entanglement. We suggest the use of consolidated standardized litter nomenclature and characterization and the adoption of a logical causal chain helping researchers in defining suitable frameworks.
Article
Chemical characterization of plastics ingested by wildlife helps identify sources of plastic pollution in nature and informs assessments of exposure risk to contaminants. In 2016, Red Phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius) were found dead on the north coast of British Columbia, Canada, during their southward migration. Previously, ingested particles suspected to be plastics were reported upon gut examination in all carcasses collected, which likely contributed to mortality. Here, we provide chemical identification of the ingested particles using Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Polymer identification was successful for 41 of the 52 analysed particles (79%): 41 (79%) were confirmed as plastics, 6 (11%) were not plastics, and 5 (10%) could not be identified. The most commonly ingested plastics were polyethylene (42%) and polypropylene (23%), both of which are known to float in the marine environment. Our study highlights the vulnerability of surface foraging seabirds to plastic pollution in the marine environment.
Article
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most widely used thermoplastics but is also a material of concern because of the generation and release of harmful chemicals during its life cycle. Amongst the chemicals added to PVC are metal-based stabilisers and Sb-based halogenated flame retardant synergists. However, very little quantitative information exists on these additives, and in particular in PVC lost to the environment. In this study, the distribution of PVC amongst consumer plastics in societal circulation and plastics retrieved from marine and lacustrine beaches and agricultural soils are compared, along with the presence and concentrations of Ba, Cd, Pb, Sb, Sn and Zn as proxies for common metal-based additives and determined by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. About 10% of consumer plastics and 2% of environmental plastics were constructed of PVC, with the discrepancy attributed to the long service lives and managed disposal of PVC used in the construction sector and the propensity of the plastic to sink in aquatic systems and evade detection. Metal-based additives, defined as having a metal concentration >1000 mg kg-1, were present in about 75% of consumer and environmental PVC, with Ba and Pb most abundant and Cd and Zn least abundant in both types of sample, and median concentrations statistically different only for Ba. Metals also appeared to be present as contaminants (defined as concentrations <1000 mg kg-1) arising from manufacturing or recycling. Metals in PVC are believed to pose little risk when the material is in use, but experimental evidence in the literature suggests that significant mobilisation and exposure may occur from PVC microplastics when ingested by wildlife.
Article
This study reports the first baselines of plastic ingestion for three fish species that are common commercial and sustenance food fish in Newfoundland. Species collections occurred between 2015 and 2016 for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and capelin (Mallotus villosus). The frequency of occurrence (%FO) of plastic ingestion for both Atlantic salmon (n = 69) and capelin (n = 350) was 0%. Of the 1010 Atlantic cod individuals collected over two years, 17 individuals had ingested plastics, a %FO of 1.68%. This is the only multi-year investigation of plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod for the Northwest Atlantic, and the first baseline of plastic ingestion in Atlantic salmon and capelin on the island of Newfoundland. Considering the ecological, economic, and cultural importance of these fish species, this study is the beginning of a longitudinal study of plastic ingestion to detect any future changes in contamination levels.
Article
Full-text available
Microplastic debris floating at the ocean surface can harm marine life. Understanding the severity of this harm requires knowledge of plastic abundance and distributions. Dozens of expeditions measuring microplastics have been carried out since the 1970s, but they have primarily focused on the North Atlantic and North Pacific accumulation zones, with much sparser coverage elsewhere. Here, we use the largest dataset of microplastic measurements assembled to date to assess the confidence we can have in global estimates of microplastic abundance and mass. We use a rigorous statistical framework to standardize a global dataset of plastic marine debris measured using surface-trawling plankton nets and coupled this with three different ocean circulation models to spatially interpolate the observations. Our estimates show that the accumulated number of microplastic particles in 2014 ranges from 15 to 51 trillion particles, weighing between 93 and 236 thousand metric tons, which is only approximately 1% of global plastic waste estimated to enter the ocean in the year 2010. These estimates are larger than previous global estimates, but vary widely because the scarcity of data in most of the world ocean, differences in model formulations, and fundamental knowledge gaps in the sources, transformations and fates of microplastics in the ocean.
Article
Full-text available
Microplastics in aquatic ecosystems and especially in the marine environment represent a pollution of increasing scientific and societal concern, thus, recently a substantial number of studies on microplastics were published. Although first steps towards a standardization of methodologies used for the detection and identification of microplastics in environmental samples are made, the comparability of data on microplastics is currently hampered by a huge variety of different methodologies, which result in the generation of data of extremely different quality and resolution. This chapter reviews the methodology presently used for assessing the concentration of microplastics in the marine environment with a focus on the most convenient techniques and approaches. After an overview of non-selective sampling approaches, sample processing and treatment in the laboratory, the reader is introduced to the currently applied techniques for the identification and quantification of microplastics. The subsequent case study on microplastics in sediment samples from the North Sea measured with focal plane array (FPA)-based micro-Fourier transform infrared (micro-FTIR) spectroscopy shows that only 1.4 % of the particles visually resembling microplastics were of synthetic polymer origin. This finding emphasizes the importance of verifying the synthetic polymer origin of potential microplastics. Thus, a burning issue concerning current microplastic research is the generation of standards that allow for the assessment of reliable data on concentrations of microscopic plastic particles and the involved polymers with analytical laboratory techniques such as micro-FTIR or micro-Raman spectroscopy. © 2015, Springer International Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Article
Full-text available
The waters off Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, have one of the worst chronic oiling problems in the world. Although the species generally affected by chronic oiling is known, details on the sex, age and condition of birds killed are not well understood. In late November 2004, oiled seabirds began arriving on the beaches of eastern Placentia Bay. Over the next week, 409 oiled marine birds were collected, with Thick-billed Murres Uria lomvia (67%) and Dovekies Alle alle (23%) constituting the majority. Adult birds comprised 80% (n = 253) of Thick-billed Murres, 61% (n = 84) of Dovekies and only 38% (n = 16) of Common Murres Uria aalge. Sex ratios were close to unity (48.2% male, n = 189) for Thick-billed Murres, but male-biased for Dovekies (60.5%, n = 76) and Common Murres (85.7%, n = 14). Most Dovekies and Thick-billed Murres were found dead (83%), with the highest proportion found alive three and four days, respectively, after the first birds arrived. In spite of additional mass from the oil, body masses of Thick-billed Murres were low (mean: 742 g; range: 520-986 g; versus an expected 950 g for wintering birds). This study confirms previous assumptions that chronic oil pollution in Newfoundland affects all ages of Thick-billed Murres equally, because the age distribution among recovered birds was similar to that expected in the population at large.
Article
Full-text available
Initial studies of floating plastic debris in the oceans dealt with macroscopic particles. This research found microscale plastic present as well. Chemical analysis of sorbed materials revealed toxic materials associated with the microparticles. Seawater and plastic fragment samples were collected in September 2007 in the North Pacific Central Gyre. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected by mass spectrometry in extracts from the plastic fragments. Net concentrations of PCBs ranged from 1 to 223 ng g-�1 plastic. The most common synthetic polymers were found to be polypropylene and polyethylene. Microscopic plastic fibres and particles were also discovered in the seawater samples and examined by scanning electron microscopy. Analysis of filtered seawater samples also revealed toxic materials in concentrations lower than found on the plastic particles.
Article
Full-text available
Plastic pollution in the ocean is a global concern; concentrations reach 580,000 pieces per km 2 and production is increasing exponentially. Although a large number of empirical studies provide emerging evidence of impacts to wildlife, there has been little systematic assessment of risk. We performed a spatial risk analysis using predicted debris distributions and ranges for 186 seabird species to model debris exposure. We adjusted the model using published data on plastic ingestion by seabirds. Eighty of 135 (59%) species with studies reported in the literature between 1962 and 2012 had ingested plastic, and, within those studies, on average 29% of individuals had plastic in their gut. Standardizing the data for time and species, we estimate the ingestion rate would reach 90% of individuals if these studies were conducted today. Using these results from the literature, we tuned our risk model and were able to capture 71% of the variation in plastic ingestion based on a model including exposure, time, study method, and body size. We used this tuned model to predict risk across seabird species at the global scale. The highest area of expected impact occurs at the Southern Ocean boundary in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, which contrasts with previous work identifying this area as having low anthropo-genic pressures and concentrations of marine debris. We predict that plastics ingestion is increasing in seabirds, that it will reach 99% of all species by 2050, and that effective waste management can reduce this threat.
Article
Full-text available
Fulmars are effective biological indicators of the abundance of floating plastic marine debris. Long-term data reveal high plastic abundance in the southern North Sea, gradually decreasing to the north at increasing distance from population centres, with lowest levels in high-arctic waters. Since the 1980s, pre-production plastic pellets in North Sea fulmars have decreased by ∼75%, while user plastics varied without a strong overall change. Similar trends were found in net-collected floating plastic debris in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, with a ∼75% decrease in plastic pellets and no obvious trend in user plastic. The decreases in pellets suggest that changes in litter input are rapidly visible in the environment not only close to presumed sources, but also far from land. Floating plastic debris is rapidly "lost" from the ocean surface to other as-yet undetermined sinks in the marine environment. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Plastic debris litters aquatic habitats globally, the majority of which is microscopic (< 1 mm), and is ingested by a large range of species. Risks associated with such small fragments come from the material itself and from chemical pollutants that sorb to it from surrounding water. Hazards associated with the complex mixture of plastic and accumulated pollutants are largely unknown. Here, we show that fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants sorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology. Fish fed virgin polyethylene fragments also show signs of stress, although less severe than fish fed marine polyethylene fragments. We provide baseline information regarding the bioaccumulation of chemicals and associated health effects from plastic ingestion in fish and demonstrate that future assessments should consider the complex mixture of the plastic material and their associated chemical pollutants.
Article
Full-text available
The little auk (Alle alle) is one of the most numerous seabirds in the world, but their winter prey selection has never been thoroughly studied. In the present study, we analyzed the proventricular contents of 205 little auks caught in coastal areas off southwest Greenland during December–February and off Newfoundland in March. Large Calanoid copepods are known to be the main prey during summer. We found krill to become the crucial winter prey in both areas, followed by Themisto spp. and young capelin (Mallotus villosus). No difference was found between the diet of juvenile and adult birds. Copepods constituted around 1 % of the diet and close to all copepods were in birds caught near Cape Farwell in December. These findings provide new and important insight into the forage ecology of the little auk, and they support other studies showing that large Calanoid copepods in the Arctic decent for winter hibernation at depths that are below the diving range of the little auks. More studies to determine offshore diet and annual variation are, however, needed in order to get a more complete picture.
Article
Full-text available
Surveys of Laysan Albatross and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters on Midway and Oahu Island, Hawaii, identified a high proportion of birds with plastic in the upper gastrointestinal tract, representing hazards to the health of adult birds and their chicks.Fifty Laysan Albatross chicks were examined for plastic items lodged within the upper digestive tract. Forty-five (90%) contained plastic, including 3 chicks having proventricular impactions or ulcerative lesions. Plastic items in 21 live albatross chicks weighed a mean of 35.7 g chick−1 (range 1–175 g). Four dead birds contained 14–175 g (mean 76.7 g). Two of four adult albatross examined contained plastic in the gut. Laysan albatross chicks have the highest reported incidence and amount of ingested plastic of any seabird species.Twelve of 20 adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (60%) contained plastic particles 2–4 mm in diameter. Impaction did not appear to be a significant hazard for adult shearwaters. Shearwater chicks were not examined.Chemical toxicity of plastic polymers, plasticizers and antioxidant additives is low, although many pigments are toxic and plastics may serve as vehicles for the adsorption of organochlorine pollutants from sea water, and the toxicity of plastics is unlikely to pose significant hazard compared to obstruction and impaction of the gut.
Article
Full-text available
We examined gut contents of 1799 seabirds comprising 24 species collected in 1988–1990 to assess the types and quantities of plastic particles ingested by seabirds in the subarctic waters of Alaska. Of the 15 species found to ingest plastic, most were surface-feeders (shearwaters, petrels, gulls) or plankton-feeding divers (auklets, puffins). Of 4417 plastic particles examined, 76% were industrial pellets and 21% were fragments of ‘user’ plastic. Ingestion rates varied geographically, but no trends were evident and rates of plastic ingestion varied far more among species within areas than within species among areas. Comparison with similar data from 1968 seabirds comprising 37 species collected in 1969–1977 revealed that plastic ingestion by seabirds has increased significantly during the 10–15-year interval between studies. This was demonstrated by: (i) an increase in the total number of species ingesting plastic; (ii) an increase in the frequency of occurrence of plastic particles within species that ingested plastic; and, (iii) an increase in the mean number of plastic particles ingested by individuals of those species.
Article
Full-text available
This review of 68 studies compares the methodologies used for the identification and quantification of microplastics from the marine environment. Three main sampling strategies were identified: selective, volume-reduced, and bulk sampling. Most sediment samples came from sandy beaches at the high tide line, and most seawater samples were taken at the sea surface using neuston nets. Four steps were distinguished during sample processing: density separation, filtration, sieving, and visual sorting of microplastics. Visual sorting was one of the most commonly used methods for the identification of microplastics (using type, shape, degradation stage, and color as criteria). Chemical and physical characteristics (e.g., specific density) were also used. The most reliable method to identify the chemical composition of microplastics is by infrared spectroscopy. Most studies reported that plastic fragments were polyethylene and polypropylene polymers. Units commonly used for abundance estimates are "items per m(2)" for sediment and sea surface studies and "items per m(3)" for water column studies. Mesh size of sieves and filters used during sampling or sample processing influence abundance estimates. Most studies reported two main size ranges of microplastics: (i) 500 μm-5 mm, which are retained by a 500 μm sieve/net, and (ii) 1-500 μm, or fractions thereof that are retained on filters. We recommend that future programs of monitoring continue to distinguish these size fractions, but we suggest standardized sampling procedures which allow the spatiotemporal comparison of microplastic abundance across marine environments.
Article
Anthropogenic debris contaminates marine habitats globally, leading to several perceived ecological impacts. Here, we critically and systematically review the literature regarding impacts of debris from several scientific fields to understand the weight of evidence regarding the ecological impacts of marine debris. We quantified perceived and demonstrated impacts across several levels of biological organization that make up the ecosystem and found 366 perceived threats of debris across all levels. Two hundred and ninety-six of these perceived threats were tested, 83% of which were demonstrated. The majority (82%) of demonstrated impacts were due to plastic, relative to other materials (e.g., metals, glass) and largely (89%) at suborganismal levels (e.g., molecular, cellular, tissue). The remaining impacts, demonstrated at higher levels of organization (i.e., death to individual organisms, changes in assemblages), were largely due to plastic marine debris (>1 mm; e.g., rope, straws, and fragments). Thus, we show evidence of ecological impacts from marine debris, but conclude that the quantity and quality of research requires improvement to allow the risk of ecological impacts of marine debris to be determined with precision. Still, our systematic review suggests that sufficient evidence exists for decision makers to begin to mitigate problematic plastic debris now, to avoid risk of irreversible harm.
Article
To evaluate the incidence of ocean-borne plastic particle ingestion by western North Atlantic seabirds, we analyzed the gut contents of 1033 birds collected off the coast of North Carolina from 1975-1989. Twenty-one of 38 seabird species (55%) contained plastic particles. Procellariiform birds contained the most plastic and the presence of plastic was clearly correlated with feeding mode and diet. Plastic ingestion by procellariiforms increased over the 14 year study period, probably as a result of increasing plastic particle availability. Some seabirds showed a tendency to select specific plastic shapes and colors, indicating that they may be mistaking plastics for potential prey items. We found no evidence that seabird health was affected by the presence of plastic, even in species containing the largest quantities: Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), Red Phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicaria) and Greater Shearwaters (Puffinus gravis).
Article
Plastic debris in the marine environment is widely documented, but the quantity of plastic entering the ocean from waste generated on land is unknown. By linking worldwide data on solid waste, population density, and economic status, we estimated the mass of land-based plastic waste entering the ocean. We calculate that 275 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million MT entering the ocean. Population size and the quality of waste management systems largely determine which countries contribute the greatest mass of uncaptured waste available to become plastic marine debris. Without waste management infrastructure improvements, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Article
List of colour plates. Abbreviations. Plan of the book. Topographical diagrams. Part I: General Chapters: Auks and their world. Systematics and evolution. Distribution and biogeography. Auks in ecosystems. Social behaviour. Chick development and the transition from land to sea. Part II: Species Accounts. Bibliography. Index
Article
Domestic chickens Gallus domesticus were fed polyethylene pellets to test whether ingested plastic impairs feeding activity. When food was temporally limited, plastic-loaded birds ate less than control birds, apparently as a result of reduced gizzard volume. When given food ad libitum, plastic-loaded birds also ate less and grew slower than did control birds. It is concluded that ingested plastic reduces meal size and thus food consumption when plastic reduces the storage volume of the stomach. This reduced food consumption may limit the ability of seabirds with large plastic loads to lay down fat deposits, and thus reduce fitness.
Article
The incidence of plastic in seabirds was studied (number of individuals of a species containing plastic per number inspected, and number of particles per individual), in 1574 individuals representing 36 species of seabirds collected in the tropical Pacific, mostly between 110 and 150 ° W longitude, from 1984 to 1991. Incidence of plastic was lower in resident species compared to those which bred to the south or north but wintered in the region, and especially when compared to species that crossed the tropics in migration between the South and North Pacific. Seasonal and age-related patterns in incidence of plastic, number of particles, and particle type (pellets versus user-plastic) among a group of five Procellariiform species (each with >5% of the individuals containing plastic and for which samples were >20 birds) indicated that degradation for an individual particle in the gizzard required less than one year, and that little plastic was regurgitated by parents to chicks. Two patterns emerged from this data regarding body weight: (i) heavier birds (for a given species, age-class, season and year) were more likely to contain at least some plastic, from which we hypothesize that birds in better physical condition fed more often in areas where higher densities of plastic and food are found, such as fronts and convergences; and (ii) among individuals who contained plastic (grouped by species), there was a significant negative correlation between number of plastic particles and body weight. This is the first solid evidence for a negative relationship between plastic ingestion and physical condition in seabirds. The likelihood that higher quality individuals are more prone to ingestplastic has serious implications regarding health of some seabird populations.
Article
Molecular sexing is an attractive means to determine the sex of sexually monomorphic birds, e.g. chicks of most species. A universal approach for molecular sexing of birds would require that a conserved W chromosome-linked sequence could be analysed, but no single gene has previously been known from any avian W chromosome. The recent discovery of the CHD1W gene, apparently W-linked in all non-ratite birds, has opened new possibilities in this direction, although there is a problem in that the gene also exists in a very similar copy on the Z chromosome (CHD1Z). Here we describe a universal method for molecular sexing of non-ratite birds which is based on the detection of a constant size difference between CHD1W and CHD1Z introns. Using highly conserved primers flanking the intron, PCR amplification and agarose electrophoresis, females are characteriscd by displaying one (CHD1W) or two fragments (CHD1W and CHD1Z), while males only show one fragment (CHD1Z) clearly different in size from the female-specific CHD1W fragment. With one particular pair of primers (2550F and 2718R) we applied this test to 50 bird species from 11 orders throughout the arian phylogeny, successfully sexing 47 of the species. Using an alternative pair of primers, the three failing species could be reliably sexed. This means that a simple, rapid and cheap universal system for molecular sexing of non-ratite birds is now available.
Article
AimExtensive development of human activities in combination with ocean warming is rapidly modifying marine habitats in the Arctic and North Atlantic regions. To understand the potential impacts on marine biodiversity, there is an urgent need to determine distributions and habitat preferences of potentially vulnerable species and to identify sensitive hotspots that might require particular protection. Our aims were to track one of the most abundant seabirds of the world, the little auk (Alle alle), to provide a large, meta‐population scale overview of its non‐breeding distribution and to document potential threats to this species from human activities and other environmental changes. LocationArctic North Atlantic. Methods Using light‐level geolocators, we investigated the 2010/11 non‐breeding distribution of 65 little auks from four major colonies distributed throughout the Arctic North Atlantic. Bird distribution during the moulting, wintering and pre‐breeding periods was compared with (1) the extent of the marginal ice zone and (2) the areas covered by the main shipping lanes and oil and gas activity licences. ResultsWe identify several hotspots for this species, including two key areas located in the Greenland Sea and off Newfoundland. Crucially, we show that some of these hotspots overlap extensively with areas of intensive human activities, including oil and gas extraction and shipping. As little auks, which spend the major part of their time on the sea surface, are extremely vulnerable to marine pollution, our results emphasize the risk associated with the projected expansion of these activities. Main conclusionsWe conclude that management of further human enterprises in the Arctic needs to be based on more thorough risk assessment, requiring a substantial improvement in our knowledge of the distribution of sensitive species.
Article
We analyzed polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in abdominal adipose of oceanic seabirds (short-tailed shearwaters, Puffinus tenuirostris) collected in northern North Pacific Ocean. In 3 of 12 birds, we detected higher-brominated congeners (viz., BDE209 and BDE183), which are not present in the natural prey (pelagic fish) of the birds. The same compounds were present in plastic found in the stomachs of the 3 birds. These data suggested the transfer of plastic-derived chemicals from ingested plastics to the tissues of marine-based organisms.
A survey of the occurrence of plastic in the gizzardz of seabirds at Gough Island indicated that high levels were present in white-faced storm petrels, great shearwaters, and broad-billed prions, while several other species carried small numbers of particles. Larger species tended to carry larger particles. No clear influence of ingested plastic on body condition could be demonstrated although there is some evidence to suggest that Procellariiformes may be susceptible to a build-up of plastic because of their small and constricted gizzard anatomy.
Article
1. Ecological count data (e.g. number of individuals or species) are often log-transformed to satisfy parametric test assumptions. 2. Apart from the fact that generalized linear models are better suited in dealing with count data, a log-transformation of counts has the additional quandary in how to deal with zero observations. With just one zero observation (if this observation represents a sampling unit), the whole data set needs to be fudged by adding a value (usually 1) before transformation. 3. Simulating data from a negative binomial distribution, we compared the outcome of fitting models that were transformed in various ways (log, square root) with results from fitting models using quasi-Poisson and negative binomial models to untransformed count data. 4. We found that the transformations performed poorly, except when the dispersion was small and the mean counts were large. The quasi-Poisson and negative binomial models consistently performed well, with little bias. 5. We recommend that count data should not be analysed by log-transforming it, but instead models based on Poisson and negative binomial distributions should be used.
Article
Understanding differences in male and female care in biparental care systems can help interpret the selective pressures that shape parental strategies. We examined Little Auk Alle alle parental care at a breeding colony during the chick-rearing and fledging periods by conducting observations on marked, known-sex pairs, and by examining the sex ratio of birds carrying food to the colony. Little Auks transitioned from biparental to mostly paternal-only care during late chick-rearing. Males delivered more meals and spent more time at the colony than females during late chick-rearing. Very few females were present at the colony by the end of chick-rearing and through the fledging period, and all marked parents observed accompanying their chick to sea were male. Chick mass loss prior to fledging was associated with the lack of provisioning by the female parent, rather than a reduction in feeding frequency by both parents. The occurrence of paternal-only care during and after fledging is discussed in relation to physiological, ecological and phylogenetic constraints.
Article
I compare plastic ingested by five species of seabirds sampled in the 1980s and again in 1999–2006. The numbers of ingested plastic particles have not changed significantly, but the proportion of virgin pellets has decreased 44–79% in all five species: great shearwater Puffinus gravis, white-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis, broad-billed prion Pachyptila vittata, white-faced storm petrel Pelagodroma marina and white-bellied storm petrel Fregetta grallaria. The populations sampled range widely in the South Atlantic and western Indian Oceans. The most marked reduction occurred in great shearwaters, where the average number of pellets per bird decreased from 10.5 to 1.6. This species migrates between the South and North Atlantic each year. Similar decreases in virgin pellets have been recorded in short-tailed shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris in the Pacific Ocean and northern fulmars Fulmarus glacialis in the North Sea. More data are needed on the relationship between plastic loads in seabirds and the density of plastic at sea in their foraging areas, but the consistent decrease in pellets in birds suggests there has been a global change in the composition of small plastic debris at sea over the last two decades.
Article
Plastic particles were found in the gizzards of Leach's Petrels, Manx Shearwaters and Fulmars from Scottish Colonies, but were not found in 21 British storm Petrels. Fulmars ingested larger particles than did Leach's Petrels. The volume of plastic was equivalent to 59% of relaxed gizzard volume in most contaminated bird, but only equivocal statistical evidence for an influence of ingested plastic on body mass could be obtained.
Article
In a sample of seven red phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius: Aves) collected from a flock of 6000 late spring migrants, six stomachs contained plastic particles. A negative correlation between amount of plastic and fat condition suggests a detrimental effect of a widespread oceanic pollutant on a marine bird.
Article
The assimilation efficiencies of fledgling Whitechinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis artifically fed large quantities of plastic particles were assessed. No significant differences were detected in either assimilation efficiency or the rate of mass loss between experimental and control birds. Polyethylene pellets lost 1% of their mass after 12 days in the experimental birds' stomachs, suggesting a half-life of at least one year. No instances of plastic causing intestinal obstruction, and few cases of physical damage to the stomach lining, were found in over 400 individuals of 25 species of seabirds containing ingested plastic. These results suggest ingested plastic seldom impairs digestive efficiency in seabirds.
Article
1. Ecological count data (e.g., number of individuals or species) are often log-transformed to satisfy parametric test assumptions. 2. Apart from the fact that generalized linear models are better suited in dealing with count data, a log-transformation of counts has the additional quandary in how to deal with zero observations. With just one zero observation (if this observation represents a sampling unit), the whole dataset needs to be fudged by adding a value (usually 1) before transformation. 3. Simulating data from a negative binomial distribution, we compared the outcome of fitting models that were transformed in various ways (log, square-root) with results from fitting models using Poisson and negative binomial models to untransformed count data. 4. We found that the transformations performed poorly, except when the dispersion was small and the mean counts were large. The Poisson and negative binomial models consistently performed well, with little bias.
Article
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Alaska, 1980. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 103-111).