Anthropogenic debris and pathology in aquatic birds
LE3 .A278 2017
Master of Science
Plastics in marine and freshwater environments area global environmental issue. Plastic ingestion is associated with a variety of deleterious health effects for wildlife, and is a focus of much international research and monitoring. However, little research has focused on the ramifications of plastic debris for freshwater organisms. In chapter 2 I quantified plastic and other anthropogenic debris in 350 individuals of 17 freshwater and one marine bird species collected across Canada . I determined prevalence of anthropogenic debris in freshwater birds’ to be 11.4 % across all species studied. In chapter 3 I determined the prevalence of anthropogenic debris and their consequences in seabirds, using four species of procellariid seabirds found beached on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada between 2000 and 2012. Pooling the four species, no differences in prevalence of different pathologies was found relative to age or sex, with birds having (in descending order of occurrence) emaciation, autolysis, parasite infection, inflammation, trauma, bacterial infection, drowned, tumors, tissue necrosis, impaction, myopathy, or pneumonia. Northern fulmars washed up dead of emaciation less frequently (69/115; 60%) than sooty (36/48; 75%) or great (67/86; 78%) shearwaters. Pathology in northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis ), sooty (Ardenna grisea) and great shearwaters (Ardenna gravis) appeared unrelated to mass of debris ingested or body mass, and similarly body mass was not significantly related to mass of debris ingested. This work established that anthropogenic debris is a genuine concern for management of the health of freshwater and marine ecosystems, provided a baseline for the prevalence of anthropogenic debris ingestion in freshwater birds in Canada, and presented the first in-depth look at pathology of birds beached on Sable Island.
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