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Food web transfer of plastics to an apex riverine predator

D'Souza, Joseph, Windsor, Fredric M. ORCID:, Santillo, David and Ormerod, Stephen J. ORCID: 2020. Food web transfer of plastics to an apex riverine predator. Global Change Biology 26 (7) , pp. 3846-3857. 10.1111/gcb.15139

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As a rapidly accelerating expression of global change, plastics now occur extensively in freshwater ecosystems, yet there is barely any evidence of their transfer through food webs. Following previous observations that plastics occur widely in their prey, we used a field study of free‐living Eurasian dippers (Cinclus cinclus ), to test the hypotheses that (1) plastics are transferred from prey to predators in rivers, (2) plastics contained in prey are transferred by adults to altricial offspring during provisioning and (3) plastic concentrations in faecal and regurgitated pellets from dippers increase with urbanization. Plastic occurred in 50% of regurgitates (n = 74) and 45% of faecal samples (n = 92) collected non‐invasively from adult and nestling dippers at 15 sites across South Wales (UK). Over 95% of particles were fibres, and concentrations in samples increased with urban land cover. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy identified multiple polymers, including polyester, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride and vinyl chloride copolymers. Although characterized by uncertainty, steady‐state models using energetic data along with plastic concentration in prey and excreta suggest that around 200 plastic particles are ingested daily by dippers, but also excreted at rates that suggest transitory throughput. As some of the first evidence revealing that plastic is now being transferred through freshwater food webs, and between adult passerines and their offspring, these data emphasize the need to appraise the potential ecotoxicological consequences of increasing plastic pollution.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Water Research Institute (WATER)
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1354-1013
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 18 April 2020
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2023 10:41

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