Peter (“Petey”) completed his BSc in Zoology and Archaeology at La Trobe University. With experience working on a variety of marine conservation programs from turtles to dolphins to penguins, Peter moved to Tasmania for his Honours in 2017 to join Adrift Lab where he investigated the sub-lethal (invisible) impacts of ingested plastic on Tasmanian and Lord Howe Island shearwaters. Specifically, he looked at the nutritional composition of fledgling shearwaters, using fatty acids as a tool to assess bird health in relation to plastic load.
After receiving first class Honours, Peter joined the 2018 field team on Lord Howe Island where he collected preliminary data for his PhD, and came face-to-face with the grim reality of society’s plastic obsession. Over the past two years, Peter has been awarded numerous grants worth more than $15k: Australian Geographic, Australian Wildlife Society, BirdLife Australia, Holsworth Foundation, and Living Ocean.
Peter is excited to have one of his papers from his Honours accepted for publication!
Puskic, P, Lavers, JL, Adams, LA, Grünenwald, M, Hutton, I, and Bond, AL. 2019. Uncovering the sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion by shearwaters using fatty acid analysis. Conservation Physiology: 7.
Puskic, P, Lavers, JL, Adams, LA, and Bond, AL. in review. Ingested plastic and trace element concentrations in Short-tailed Shearwaters.
Peter was awarded a ‘Breaking Barriers’ travel scholarship to present his Honours research:
Puskic, P, Lavers, JL, Adams, LA, Grünenwald, M, Hutton, I, and Bond, AL. 2018. Shearwater sentinels: Using fatty acids to explore the sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion. Victorian Biodiversity Conference, Melbourne, 6-7 February 2018.
Peter was also selected to be the University of Tasmanian student representative for the Australian Ally Conference in Perth, 27-28 September 2018. He received a full travel scholarship.
If that wasn’t enough for 2018, in November Peter won the UTAS Mt Nelson Leadership Award
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.
As part of the University of Tasmania STEM State Future Forum, Megan Grant, Peter Puskic, and Catarina Serra Goncalves presented their PhD research via speech and a poster summarising their research. Megan Grant was awarded an equal first place for outstanding presentation of her research.
Adrift Lab took part in a beach clean up event at the Bay of Fire on Tasmania’s east coast. The community-organised event saw over eighty participants collect, count, and sort over 1000 items of marine debris from ~20km of remote beach inside Mt William National Park.
Adrift Lab has published a new paper on the sublethal impacts of plastic ingestion on marine birds. The paper follows from Peter Puskic’s recent study on the sublethal impacts of plastic ingestion on flesh-footed and short-tailed shearwaters.
Peter Puskic, Megan Grant, and Catarina Serra Goncalves joined the Now That’s What I Call Science! Program on Hobart’s Edge Radio. Niamh and Anna discussed plastic pollution, the growing public understanding of how expansive the global plastic pollution problem is, and what individuals and communities can do to make a positive change.
Last week members of Adrift Lab braved the early hours of the morning once again to participate in a bird banding trip. As discussed in our last article on bird banding, the aim of the process is to build long-term data sets that allows for meaningful analysis.
Peter Puskic joined Helen Shield on ABC Radio Hobart’s ‘Your Afternoon’ show to discuss his research and his research accolades.
Dr Jennifer Lavers recently applied for a scholarship with Australian Geographic for Peter Puskic’s project “More Than Skin Deep: Examining The Cellular-Level Effects of Ingested Plastic On Flesh-Footed Shearwaters”.