Publications

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

Identifying laboratory sources of microplastic and nanoplastic contamination from the air, water, and consumables

We provide data on significant sources of plastic contamination in common laboratory procedures including water sources (e.g., Milli-Q), consumables (e.g., unburnt glassware), airflow (e.g., fume hood) and dust Publication Details »

Quantitative photography for rapid, reliable measurement of marine macro-plastic pollution

Measurement of plastic size, shape and colour is labour-intensive, unreliable and prone to observer bias, particularly when it comes to assessment of colour, which relies on arbitrary and inconsistently defined colour categorisations. We address this clear need for a standardization for data collection on plastic pollution, providing a method that can be readily automated. Publication Details »

Stopping marine debris at the source: Effectiveness of Source Reduction Plans in Australia

Globally, there is a lack of information available concerning the challenges associated with the implementation of Source Reduction Plans (SRPs). To address this, we measured the effectiveness of two quantifiable SRP projects at different scales: cigarette butts (consumer level) and strapping bands used in fisheries (industrial level). Our results suggest the outcomes differ depending on the type of SRP, due to the different characteristics of the tackled item (i.e., source, pathway) and the respective SRP implementation mechanism Publication Details »

The understudied global experiment of pollution's impacts on wildlife and human health: The ethical imperative for interdisciplinary research

Medical and ecological research play a key role in investigating the health consequences of the pollution crisis, yet the wildlife experience is often neglected. This paper outlines how applying advanced techniques and expertise adapted in medical research to wildlife exposed to pollutants offers a unique perspective to understanding the full diversity of impacts to health Publication Details »

Global assessment of marine plastic exposure risk for oceanic birds

Oceanic seabirds, particularly petrels, frequently ingest plastic, are highly threatened, and cover vast distances during foraging and migration. However, the spatial overlap between petrels and plastics is poorly understood. In this paper, we combine marine plastic density estimates with individual movement data for 7137 birds of 77 petrel species to estimate relative exposure risk. We identify high exposure risk areas in the Mediterranean and Black seas, the North Pacific, South Atlantic and southwest Indian oceans. Plastic exposure risk varied greatly among species and populations with risk being disproportionately high for Threatened species. Publication Details »

Assessing the effectiveness of MARPOL Annex V at reducing marine debris on Australian beaches

Here, we evaluated whether MARPOL Annex V translated into a decrease in the incidence of shipping- and commercial fishing-sourced debris on remote beaches in Australia using 14 years of standardised, community-driven data. From 2006 to 2020 there was a significant change over time in the density of fishing and shipping debris on Australian beaches; debris density increased up to 2013 followed by a decrease until mid-2017. Although the new regulation started in January 2013, the decrease in density was not recorded until one year later. The decline was only observed for 4 years. Publication Details »

Pumice ingestion in seabirds: interannual variation, and relationships with chick growth and plastic ingestion

We analysed the amount of ingested pumice from 739 Flesh-footed & 173 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters from Lord Howe Island during 2011-2022. Pumice mass did not vary over time and there was no effect of pumice mass on chick body size at fledgling. Publication Details »

Long-term decline in fledging body condition of Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes)

On Lord Howe Island, we measured Flesh-footed Shearwater fledglings in the colony and adjacent beaches to determine how body condition changed during 2010–2022. Overall, we found chick body mass as well as wing, culmen, and head + bill length declined over time with larger declines observed in beach-washed birds. Culmen and head + bill length declined by 0.17 and 0.23 mm/year, respectively, and body mass by 16.1 g/year. The number of chicks fledging at <400 g has increased sharply in recent years, meaning significant numbers of birds are unlikely to survive after departing the island. Publication Details »

‘Plasticosis’: Characterising macro- and microplastic-associated fibrosis in seabird tissues

Plastic presence in shearwaters from Lord Howe Island was associated with widespread scar tissue formation and extensive changes to, and even loss of, tissue structure. Additionally, despite naturally occurring pumice also being found in the gastrointestinal tract, this did not cause similar scarring. This highlights the unique pathological properties of plastics and raises concerns for other species impacted by plastic ingestion. Further, the extent and severity of fibrosis documented in this study gives support for a novel, plastic-induced fibrotic disease, which we define as ‘Plasticosis,’. Publication Details »

Can the mass of plastic ingested by seabirds be predicted by the number of ingested items?

For wildlife, the mass and number of ingested plastics are widely reported, but these are not without their challenges, especially in field settings. Rapid methods for estimating the mass of ingested plastic could therefore be useful, but the relationship with the number of ingested pieces has not been explored. Publication Details »

Foraging strategy influences the quantity of ingested micro- and nanoplastics in shorebirds

Coastlines, including estuaries, mudflats, and beaches, are particularly susceptible to plastic pollution, which can accumulate from both marine and terrestrial sources. Here, we quantified small plastics (200 nm–70 μm) in two resident shorebird species (Pied Oystercatcher & Hooded Plover) in Tasmania, and compared this to quantities found in the surrounding sediments in order to investigate the potential exposure and transfer of particles within these ecosystems. Publication Details »

New methods for the quantification of ingested nano- and ultrafine plastics in seabirds

Plastic ingestion has been documented in a plethora of taxa. However, there is a significant gap in the detection of tiny particles (invisible to the naked eye) due to size limitations of commonly used techniques. Using two Australian seabird species as case studies, we tested a novel approach of flow cytometry to quantify ingested nanoplastics (<70 μm) in shearwater guano. Publication Details »