The use of anthropogenic debris as nesting material by the greater thornbird, an inland-wetland-associated bird of South America

Date of publication 3 August 2020

Authors Blettler, Martin C. M.; Gauna, Lucia; Andreault, Alex; Abrial, Elie; Lorenzon, Rodrigo E.; Espinola, Luis A.; Wantzen, Karl M.

Sources Environmental Science and Pollution Research :



Plastic pollution has become a globally pressing environmental issue. In birds, plastic may cause harm by entangling or ingestion when used for nesting. The use of anthropogenic nesting material has so far been mostly studied in birds of terrestrial or marine habitats, but there are yet very few reports for inland water-associated birds. The aim of this study is to better understand the extension and magnitude of the use of anthropogenic debris as nesting material by the greater thornbird (Phacellodomus ruber), a bird species preferably nesting in river floodplain wetlands in South America. We found thatP. ruberuses disproportionally large quantities of plastic debris as nesting material (more than 90% of some nest chambers is plastic). This occurred even if ample vegetation (commonly used as soft material) was available. Most of the artificial nesting material was derived from wrapping material released into the environment. We suggest that this species has the potential to indicate vulnerable areas to plastic pollution associated with urban waste mismanagement.

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