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

The one-two punch of plastic exposure: Macro- and micro-plastics induce multi-organ damage in seabirds

We investigated the presence and impact of microplastics in multiple tissues in Australian seabirds using histopathological techniques to measure physiological responses and inflammation from the plastics. All organs examined (kidney, spleen, proventriculus) had embedded microplastic particles and this correlated with macroplastic exposure. Considerable tissue damage was recorded, including a significant reduction in tubular glands and rugae in the proventriculus (stomach), and evidence of inflammation, fibrosis, and loss of organ structures in the kidney and spleen. Publication Details »

Ingested plastics in beach-washed Fairy Prions Pachyptila turtur from Tasmania

In this study, 34 fledgling Fairy Prions (Pachyptila turtur) recovered during a wreck event (likely associated with a marine heatwave) in south-eastern Tasmania in early-2022 were examined for ingested plastics and body condition. Publication Details »

Far from a distraction: Plastic pollution and the planetary emergency

Pollution of the environment with plastics has garnered significant public attention, but the topic has also been the focus of controversy, including assertions that resources are better spent on other topics, such as global warming. Here, we argue that plastic pollution and climate change are fundamentally linked, from the extraction of fossil fuels to the production of plastics, and eventual disposal. Publication Details »

Impact of bushfires on seabird breeding islands in southwest Australia: a case study for developing a community-based model in adaptive management

Traditional burning regimes have long been employed to enhance biodiversity and mitigate high-intensity wildfires. The link between changes in the distribution, success, and timing of breeding in seabirds and climatic and oceanographic variation in the marine environment has been established, with migratory seabirds less able to respond to climate variability than resident species. While climate-driven changes can also occur on seabird breeding islands, few data are available regarding potential impacts. Publication Details »

Part C, Chapter 3 - Seabirds as Indicators of Metal and Plastic Pollution

The light weight, robustness, versatility, durability and low cost of plastic materials make them suitable to create a wide range of useful products. Unfortunately, these properties are also the reason why plastics are a serious threat to natural ecosystems throughout the world. Considering the large production, intense consumption and rapid disposal of plastics, they are widespread and ubiquitous in the environment, particularly in oceans. The absolute quantity of plastic that enter the marine environment is poorly described, but it is estimated that around 10% of produced plastics will end up in the oceans. Publication Details »

The influence of seabirds on their breeding, roosting, and nesting grounds: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Seabird species worldwide are integral to both marine and terrestrial environments, connecting the two systems by transporting vast quantities of marine-derived nutrients and pollutants to terrestrial breeding, roosting, and nesting grounds via the deposition of guano and other inputs. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis and provide insight into what types of nutrients and pollutants seabirds are transporting, the influence these subsidies are having on recipient environments, with a particular focus on soil, and what may happen if seabird populations decline. Publication Details »

Comparing methods for monitoring nest debris using silver gulls as a case study

Global plastics production is increasing exponentially and contributing to significant pollution of the marine environment. Of particular concern is ingestion and entanglement risks for marine wildlife, including when items such as rope are incorporated into nest structures. These events are commonly documented using photographic and visual surveys, and each presents a number of challenges and benefits for species conservation and monitoring. Publication Details »

A baseline study of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in waterfowl from a remote Australian environment

Elevated concentrations of PFASs in the liver may pose a toxicological risk to bird species and humans that consume them. This study aimed to determine concentrations of 43 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in livers (n = 80) of Australian Shelducks, Pacific Black Ducks, and Teals (Anas sp.), as well as water and sediment from a remote Australian environment (Moulting Lagoon, Tasmania) Publication Details »

Complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a seabird, Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna pacifica)

Here, we report the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a seabird, wedge-tailed shearwater (Ardenna pacifica). The circular genome has a size of 16,434 bp and contains 13 protein-coding genes, 22 tRNA genes, and 2 rRNA genes. The study provides a reference mitochondrial genome of wedge-tailed shearwater for further molecular studies. Publication Details »