Our publications cover topics including impacts of plastic pollution on plants, animals, and aquatic environments, and biology and ecology of seabirds.

Temporal trends and interannual variation in plastic ingestion by Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using different sampling strategies

The world's oceans are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic activities, including significant and rapidly increasing inputs of plastic pollution. Seabirds have long been considered sentinels of ocean health, providing data on physical and chemical pollutants in their marine habitats. However, long-term data that can elucidate important patterns and changes in seabird exposure to marine pollutants are relatively limited but are urgently needed to identify and support effective policy measures to reduce plastic waste. Publication Details »

A standardised method for estimating the level of visible debris in bird nests

Unlike records of plastic ingestion and entanglement in seabirds which date back to the 1960s, the literature regarding debris in bird nests is comparatively limited. It is important to identify standardised methods early so that data are collected in a consistent manner, ensuring that future studies can be comparable. Here, we outline a method that can be applied to photographs for estimating the proportion of visible debris at the surface of a nest. Publication Details »

Measuring nest incorporation of anthropogenic debris by seabirds: An opportunistic approach increases geographic scope and reduces costs Author links open overlay panel

Data on the prevalence of anthropogenic debris in seabird nests can be collected alongside other research or through community science initiatives to increase the temporal and spatial scale of data collection. To assess the usefulness of this approach, we collated data on nest incorporation of debris for 14 seabird species from 84 colonies across five countries in northwest Europe. Of 10,274 nests monitored 12% contained debris, however, there was large variation in the proportion of nests containing debris among species and colonies. Publication Details »

Persistent organic pollutant (POPs) concentrations from Great-winged Petrels nesting in Western Australia

Marine animals that traverse coastal and offshore environments are potentially exposed to multiple sources of pollution. Baseline data of pollutant concentrations of these fauna are needed in remote areas as human populations grow and economic development increases because changes may affect local wildlife in unforeseen ways. Persistent organic pollutant (POPs) concentrations were quantified in an understudied seabird, the great-winged petrel (Pterodroma macroptera), that breeds in southern Western Australia Publication Details »

Plastics in regurgitated Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) boluses as a monitoring tool

Plastic production and pollution of the environment with plastic items is rising rapidly and outpacing current mitigation measures. Success of mitigation actions can only be determined if progress can be measured reliably through incorporation of specific, measurable targets. Publication Details »

Breeding success of Short-tailed Shearwaters, a migratory seabird, following extreme environmental conditions

Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency, causing disruption to global ecosystems. Large-scale events, such as marine heatwaves, can impact the abundance of prey species, which consequently influences the behaviour of top-level predators such as seabirds. The short-tailed shearwater is a trans-hemispheric migrant with typically a highly synchronous breeding phenology. Here, we document short-tailed shearwater colony occupancy for the period 2011-2020, with a focused assessment of their breeding success in the 2019/20 season, which followed a marine heatwave that occurred predominantly the non-breeding areas in the North Pacific Ocean. Publication Details »

A proposed framework for reporting mass mortality (wreck) events of seabirds

There is an absence of quantitative criteria and definitions for unusual or anomalous mortality events involving birds, often referred to as “wrecks”. These events most commonly involve seabirds, although terrestrial bird wrecks have also been documented. Typically, the peer-reviewed literature investigating wreck events lacks the details necessary to further our understanding of the circumstances and potential causes of these events. Publication Details »

Assessing plastic size distribution and quantity on a remote island in the South Pacific

Plastics are an environmental threat; however, their fate once in the pelagic environment is poorly known. We compare results from assessments of floating plastics in the South Pacific Ocean with accumulated beach plastics from Henderson Island. Publication Details »

Towards the spectral mapping of plastic debris on beaches

Floating and washed ashore marine plastic debris (MPD) is a growing environmental challenge. It has become evident that secluded locations including the Arctic, Antarctic, and remote islands are being impacted by plastic pollution generated thousands of kilometers away. Optical remote sensing of MPD is an emerging field that can aid in monitoring remote environments where in-person observation and data collection is not always feasible. Publication Details »

Plastic debris increases circadian temperature extremes in beach sediments

Plastic pollution is the focus of substantial scientific and public interest, leading many to believe the issue is well documented and managed, with effective mitigation in place. However, many aspects are poorly understood, including fundamental questions relating to the scope and severity of impacts (e.g., demographic consequences at the population level). Plastics accumulate in significant quantities on beaches globally, yet the consequences for these terrestrial environments are largely unknown. Publication Details »

Resolution of the phylogenetic relationship of the vulnerable Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) seabird using a complete mitochondrial genome

Flesh-footed shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) is recognized as vulnerable seabird species in Western Australia and New South Wales, Australia, and its genetic variability and a well-resolved phylogeny is imperative for the species’ conservation. Here, we report the first sequenced mitogenome of the Australian A. carneipes. Publication Details »

Longevity records for the Brown Booby Sula leucogaster and Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes

Longevity records for seabirds are vital to understanding population demography but are often limited due to the relatively short duration of many monitoring programs. Here, we present new longevity records for two seabird species: 32.2 years (Queensland, Australia) for the Brown Booby Sula leucogaster and 33.9 years (New Zealand) for the Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes, alongside existing longevity data. While these new records represent the oldest known birds to date, we suggest that they reflect typical adult lifespans of these species, i.e., 25-30 years, and reinforce the need for ongoing monitoring efforts. Publication Details »

Latex balloons do not degrade uniformly in freshwater, marine and composting environments

Latex balloons are a poorly-studied aspect of anthropogenic pollution that affects wildlife survival, aesthetic value of waterways, and may adsorb and leach chemicals. Pure latex needs to be vulcanised with sulphur and requires many additional compounds to manufacture high quality balloons. Yet, balloons are often marketed as “biodegradable”, which is confusing to consumers. Publication Details »

Cleaner Seas: Reducing Marine Pollution

In the age of the Anthropocene, the Ocean have typically been viewed as a sink for our pollution. Pollution is varied, ranging from human-made plastics and pharmaceutical compounds, to human-altered abiotic factors, such as sediment and nutrient runoff. Publication Details »

Seabird breeding islands as sinks for marine plastic debris

Seabirds are apex predators in the marine environment and well-known ecosystem engineers, capable of changing their terrestrial habitats by introducing marine-derived nutrients via deposition of guano and other allochthonous inputs. Publication Details »