DR ALEX BOND
Dr Alex Bond is an ecologist and conservation biologist based at the Natural History Museum (Tring, UK). His research covers myriad topics, but is typically centered around seabirds as sentinels of environmental condition. He uses a mix of lab, field, and analytical techniques to better understand natural and human-caused changes, including the impact of invasive species, chemical pollution, and marine debris.
Dr Bond is a key member Adrift Lab, as he co-supervises many of the graduate students and is integral to data collection on Lord Howe Island. His knowledge of statistics is greatly appreciated by all, as is his patience with students learning R for the first time!
You can follow him on Twitter at @TheLabAndField
Marine debris is distributed worldwide and constitutes an increasing threat to our environment. The exponential increase of plastic debris raises numerous concerns and has led to an intensification in plastic monitoring and research.
Anthropogenic marine debris is a recognised global issue, which can impact a wide range of organisms. This has led to a rise in research focused on plastic ingestion, but quantitative data on entanglement are still limited, especially regarding seabirds, due to challenges associated with monitoring entanglement in the marine environment.
Pollution of the environment with plastic debris is a significant and rapidly expanding threat to biodiversity due to its abundance, durability, and persistence. Current knowledge of the negative effects of debris on wildlife is largely based on consequences that are readily observed, such as entanglement or starvation.
Marine plastic pollution is increasing exponentially, impacting an expanding number of taxa each year across all trophic levels. Of all bird groups, seabirds display the highest plastic ingestion rates and are regarded as sentinels of pollution within their foraging regions. The consumption of plastic contributes to sub-lethal impacts (i.e. morbidity, starvation) in a handful of species.
This study provides the first quantification of ultrafine plastic in seabirds using chemical and biological digestion treatments to extract plastic items from seabird gizzards. The alkaline agent, potassium hydroxide, outperformed the enzyme corolase, based on cost and efficiency (e.g., digestion time). Ultrafine plastics were observed in 7.0% of Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) gizzards collected from Lord Howe Island,
Invasive rodents are successful colonists of many ecosystems around the world, and can have very flexible foraging behaviours that lead to differences in spatial ranges and seasonal demography among individuals and islands. Understanding such spatial and temporal information is critical to plan rodent eradication operations, and a detailed examination of an island’s rat population can expand our knowledge about possible variation in behaviour and demography of invasive rats in general.
Rodent eradications in tropical environments are often more challenging and less successful than those in temperate environments. Reduced seasonality and the lack of a defined annual resource pulse influence rodent population dynamics differently than the well-defined annual cycles on temperate islands, so an understanding of rodent ecology and population dynamics is important to maximise the chances of eradication success in the tropics.
Changing bait colour may reduce mortality of Henderson crakes (Zapornia atra), an endemic globally threatened flightless bird on Henderson Island, Pitcairn Islands, South Pacific Ocean. Crakes had high non-target mortality in a failed 2011 rat eradication operation and consumed fewer blue than green cereal pellets
Burrow-nesting seabirds present many challenges for determining abundance reliably. We used burrow scopes to determine the population status of Flesh-footed Shearwaters on Lord Howe Island. Comparing two burrow scope models, we found >50% of burrow contents were classified differently. Our results highlight a need for regular surveys to quantify detection probability so that as video technology advances, previous estimates remain comparable.
Gadfly petrels (Pterodroma spp.) are one of the most threatened and poorly studied seabird groups, and as marine predators, are exposed to biomagnified and bioaccumulated chemical pollutants from their prey. We quantified trace element concentrations in breast feathers of seven petrel species that breed in the southern hemisphere to quantify current concentrations.