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The effects of ingested plastic on growth and survival of albatross chicks

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Abstract

We studied the effects of ingested plastic on the growth and survival of chicks of Laysan Albatrosses Diomedea immutabilis and Black-footed albatrosses D. nigripes on Midway Atoll during the nesting seasons of 1986 and 1987. Weights and proventricular contents of the chicks were determined periodically through the nesting cycle. Large (>22 cm1)volumes of plastic were present in the proventriculi of 27% of the Laysan and 16% of the Black-footed albatross chicks examined by endoscopy. Prior to fledging, albatross chicks regurgitated pellets composed of plastic and other indigestible material from their proventriculi. Laysan Albatross chicks with large volumes of proventricular plastic had asymptotic fledging weights significantly lower (122 g) than did chicks with low amounts of plastic. The effect of depresses fledging weights on postfledging survival was not determined. Plastic had no detectable effect on the growth of Black-footed Albatross chicks. All chicks that died were examined by necropsy. Mechanical lesions from ingested plastic were the cause of death of one of 45 Laysan Albatross chicks examined in 1986, but were not the cause of death of 93 individuals examined in 1987. Dehydration was the most common cause of death. In general, ingested plastic was not a significant direct cause of death in nestlings, but there was some evidence that it may have affected survival in 1986, when the volume of plastic ingested was highest.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book
Publication Subtype Conference publication
Title The effects of ingested plastic on growth and survival of albatross chicks
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Canadian Wildlife Services Special Publications
Publisher location Ottawa, Canada
Contributing office(s) National Wildlife Health Center
Description p. 212-217
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Report
Larger Work Title The Status, Ecology, and Conservation of Marine Birds of the North Pacific
First page 212
Last page 217
Time Range Start 1986-01-01
Time Range End 1987-12-31