Nests of the brown booby (Sula leucogaster) as a potential indicator of tropical ocean pollution by marine debris

Seabirds collect debris primarily nearby breeding sites, and thus they may be used to monitor these pollutants in the ocean. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of marine debris used as nesting materials by the brown booby (Sula leucogaster) and to test the species selectivity to debris type and color in two coastal islands of Brazil. We found marine debris in 61% of the brown booby nests on both islands. Fishing gear and hard plastic were the most frequent types of debris. Higher prevalence of fishing gear was found on the island with greater fishery activity. Similarly, hard plastic was the most frequent type of debris in nests and adjacent beach environment. The frequency of debris in brown booby nests can be a potential indicator of the abundance of specific items in surrounding marine waters. Monitoring debris in brown booby nests in a long-term may provide a better understanding of the species selectivity for specific debris. Furthermore, the impacts of debris in seabird nests at population level remain an overlooked threat that may reduce the quality of nesting habitats. We showed that brown booby nests are widely impacted by marine debris and that these organisms are exposed to this form of pollution from the beginning of their life.

Davi Castro Tavares, Leonardo Lopes da Costa, Danilo Freitas Rangel, Jailson Fulgencio de Moura, Ilana Rosental Zalmon, Salvatore Siciliano, Ecological Indicators, Volume 70, November 2016, Pages 10–14, Navigating Urban Complexity: Advancing Understanding of Urban Social – Ecological Systems for Transformation and Resilience

The article


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