Seasonal ingestion of anthropogenic debris in an urban population of gullsLillian G. Stewart, Jennifer L. Lavers, Megan L. Grant, Peter S. Puskic, Alexander L. Bond
Gulls are generalist seabirds, increasingly drawn to urban environments where many species take advantage of abundant food sources, such as landfill sites. Despite this, data on items ingested at these locations, including human refuse, is limited.
Here we investigate ingestion of prey and anthropogenic debris items in boluses (regurgitated pellets) from Pacific Gulls (Larus pacificus). A total of 374 boluses were collected between 2018 and 2020 in Tasmania. Debris was present in 92.51% of boluses (n = 346), with plastic (86.63%, n = 324) and glass (64.71%, n = 242) being the most prominent types.
An abundance of intact, household items (e.g., dental floss, food wrappers) suggest the gulls regularly feed at landfill sites. In addition, the boluses are deposited at a roosting site located within an important wetland, thus we propose that the gulls may be functioning as a previously unrecognised vector of anthropogenic debris from urban centres to aquatic environments.