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Plastic ingestion is an underestimated cause of death for southern hemisphere albatrosses

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Roman, L, Butcher, RG, Stewart, D, Hunter, S, Jolly, M, Kowalski, P, Hardesty, BD and Lenting, B 2020 , 'Plastic ingestion is an underestimated cause of death for southern hemisphere albatrosses' , Conservation Letters , pp. 1-12 , doi: 10.1111/conl.12785.

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Abstract

Albatrosses are among the world’s most imperiled vertebrates, with 73% ofspecies threatenedwith extinction. Ingestion of plastic is awell-recognized threatamong threeNorth Pacific species, but lesser known in the southern hemisphere,where it is considered a minor threat. As plastic entering the ocean is increasingwhile albatross populations decline, the threat of ocean plastic to albatrosspopulations may be underestimated. We present case studies of 107 beach-castalbatrosses of twelve species, received by wildlife hospitals in Australia and NewZealand, and estimate plastic ingestion and mortality rates for albatrosses in thesouthern hemisphere. Ingested plastic was present in 5.6% of individuals, andthe cause of death in half of these cases. We estimate ingestion of plastic maycause 3.4–17.5% of nearshoremortalities and is worth consideration as a substantialthreat to albatross populations. We provide clinical findings and “checklist”methodologies for identifying potential cases of foreign-body gastrointestinalobstruction. We suggest practical policy responses, empowering decision makersto reduce albatross mortality from anthropogenic sources.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Roman, L and Butcher, RG and Stewart, D and Hunter, S and Jolly, M and Kowalski, P and Hardesty, BD and Lenting, B
Keywords: plastic, albatross, veterinary, pollution, marine, balloon, bottle, by-catch, conservation, marine debris, plastic pollution, policy, seabird, threatened species
Journal or Publication Title: Conservation Letters
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 1755-263X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/conl.12785
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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