River Birds Ingest Up to 200 Microplastic Pieces Daily

cc by 2.0。Gailhampshire - 北斗星(Cinclus cinclus)由苏格兰布罗迪克城堡附近的一条快速移动的河站立。

This troubling discovery made by UK researchers is one of the first to follow plastic through the freshwater food chain.

Anew studyhas examined how microplastics travel through the freshwater food web. It is well-known that animals encounter plastics in marine environments and on land, but little is known about how tiny pieces of plastic (measuring 5 mm or less) enter their bodies. In order to find out more, scientists from Cardiff University in Wales, UK, examined birds called dippers, which hunt for underwater insects and small fish by wading or diving in freshwater rivers.

Dippers have long been considered a key environmental indicator species on five continents. From the study's introduction: "The fivecinclus.species are restricted to fast‐flowing piedmont or montane rivers, where they occupy a highly specialized niche feeding almost exclusively on aquatic invertebrate prey." It's known that microplastics occur in large quantities in the aquatic invertebrates that dippers rely on to eat, so they seemed "a suitable model for assessing plastic transfer across trophic levels."

"Because dippers provision nest‐bound young using loads of multiple, whole prey from well‐defined taxa, they also provide an opportunity to assess whether any plastic items are fed inadvertently to nest‐bound offspring through intergenerational transfer. This phenomenon has been illustrated in some seabirds but only in regurgitated catches or as whole plastic items."

在这种情况下,研究人员看着反刍的颗粒和粪便,发现大约有166个样品的一半,其中166个样品中的14个在研究含有微压片段的15个位点。城市地区浓度较高,似乎来自合成纺织品(95%的纤维)和建筑物废物。yabo彩票基于此,研究人员估计,杓子每天耗尽多达200个微塑料碎片,同时觅食通常的饮食,并且这些已经存在于杓子正在狩猎的生物体中。

One of the study authors, Joseph D'Souza,告诉BBC, "The fact that so many river insects are contaminated makes it inevitable that fish, birds and other predators will pick up these polluted prey — but this is the first time that this type of transfer through food webs has been shown clearly in free-living river animals."

似乎碎片通过鸟类迅速通过,因为粪便中发现的数量与研究人员认为正在摄入的量相似,但是担心这些塑料可以引入鸟类体的潜在污染物,以及人为的饱腹感。

Steve Ormerod, a professor at Cardiff University's Water Research Institute, expressed dismay at the findings. He iscited in EcoWatch:

"These iconic birds, the dippers, are ingesting hundreds of pieces of plastic every day. They're also feeding this material to their chicks... In almost 40 years of researching rivers and dippers, I never imagined that one day our work would reveal these spectacular birds to be at risk from the ingestion of plastics — a measure of how this pollution problem has crept upon us."

This will hopefully help people to think about plastic pollution in wildlife closer to home. So often the news coverage we see focuses on exotic, marine animals, such as a whale that's ingested too much plastic, a sea turtle with a straw in its nose, a sea horse clutching a Q-tip. This perpetuates the notion that rampant plastic contamination throughout the food chain is happening elsewhere, faraway, and yet it's in our own backyards.

This studyjoins the growing body of evidence that plastic is insidiously pervasive, that it does not stop at any level of the food chain but will continue to bio-accumulate, compromising the health of every species. The only solution is to halt superfluous plastic production at the source, to limit use of single-use plastics and opt for reusables whenever possible, and we need government policies to ensure this happens in a thorough, consistent manner.