Seabird interactions with plastics
There have been some previous attempts to correlate seabird species ranges (total known area of pelagic extent) with at-sea distribution of plastic material. This project will extend this area research by using new models of oceanic plastic distributions across various size classes. The new models are based on n 14000 at-sea sampling stations across the globe developed by the 5Gyres Institute in California. In a new collaboration between Mark and the 5Gyres Research Director (Marcus Eriksen), the new models will be overlain with the pelagic routes of seabirds that have been have been tracked using satellite and GPS devices. Our focus is on seabird species covered by ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels). This currently covers 22 species of Albatrosses, 7 species of Petrel, and 1 species of Shearwater. The analysis will provide much needed information on the degree of threat posed by oceanic plastics to these endangered species.
The vast majority of world's population of Manx Shearwaters (more than 340,000 pairs) breed in Britain and Ireland. More than 50% of these birds breed on the Pembrokeshire islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Middleholm. Long-term monitoring of breeding sites has been taking place for many decades. This project is providing a spatial analysis of changes in breeding sites and success over the past few decades. This project is being led by Matt Wood (a colleague of Mark's at the University of Gloucestershire).
Matt Wood secured a small research grant for this year's surveys. Mark is currently undertaking the GIS mapping and analysis.