Plastics in the Pacific: Assessing risk from ocean debris for marine birds in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

Understanding the impact of plastic debris on marine birds is important for conservation of some species, and assessing risk from this anthropogenic threat requires high-quality distribution data for both marine birds and plastic debris. We applied a risk assessment framework to explore the relative risk for 19 marine bird species posed by plastic debris in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. We estimated exposure for each species by combining scores from (1) spatial overlap of predicted marine bird densities from habitat-association models and predicted density of marine plastics from terrestrial input and ocean circulation models, (2) species’ foraging behavior, and (3) species’ residence time in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. We estimated sensitivity for each species by combining scores for (1) mortality/sub-lethal effects of ingested plastic debris, (2) off-loading of plastics via regurgitation, (3) fecundity, and (4) age of breeding maturity. Overall risk from marine debris was greatest for more pelagic species and lowest for nearshore coastal species and generally agreed with published plastic ingestion studies. Notably, marine plastic debris densities are greatest at the western edge and offshore of the study domain, which likely explains the greater risk we observed in more pelagic species. This study is the first to look specifically at plastic debris risk to marine birds in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, and our results suggest that any attempts to mitigate the impacts of plastic debris on marine birds will likely require assessment and actions beyond the California Current into the broader Pacific basin.

Latest Posts

Leaving a plastic legacy: Current and future scenarios for mismanaged plastic waste in rivers

This paper examines the exposure of river systems to MPW in order to better understand the sedimentary processes that control the legacy of plastic waste. According to the study, about 0.8 million tonnes of MPW entered rivers globally in 2015, affecting about 84 percent of rivers by surface area. According to the study, the amount[…]

A critical review on recent research progress on microplastic pollutants in drinking water

The article summarizes the results of various scientific studies regarding the presence of microplastics in different drinking water sources. Further research is required to understand the effects of microplastic bioaccumulation on living organisms. There is a growing concern about microplastic pollution in the environment, which needs to be addressed and further research should be conducted[…]

‘Unlocking circular economy for prevention of marine plastic pollution: An exploration of G20 policy and initiatives’

Based on a custom framework for MPP policy that combines circular economy (CE) and life-cycle perspectives, the paper provides an overview of existing policies and identifies further policy options. Approximately 300 million tons of MPP are produced annually by land-based sources, which severely impacts marine ecosystems and harms livelihoods. Microplastic pollution is an issue that[…]

How plastic debris and associated chemicals impact the marine food web: A review

This review seeks to identify the complexity of impacts to marine organisms through the food web from plastic contamination. Contamination from plastic debris in marine environments pose a substantial risk to marine organisms, food webs and the ecosystem. The study investigates the intrusion of plastics into the marine food web and the subsequent consequences of[…]

Biodegradation of Different Types of Bioplastics through Composting—A Recent Trend in Green Recycling

The review highlights the extent and rate of the biodegradation of bioplastic in composting, soil, and aquatic environments. Bioplastic alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics are becoming more and more prevalent and have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing plastic pollution in the environment. However, their biodegradation is highly dependent on various factors in[…]