What goes in, must come out: Combining scat‐based molecular diet analysis and quantification of ingested microplastics in a marine top predator

Nelms, SE; Parry, HE; Bennett, KA; Galloway, TS; Godley, BJ; Santillo, D; Lindeque, PK. 2019 What goes in, must come out: Combining scat‐based molecular diet analysis and quantification of ingested microplastics in a marine top predator. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10 (10). 1712-1722. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13271

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13271

Abstract/Summary

1. Microplastics (plastic particles <5 mm in size) are highly available for ingestion by a wide range of organisms, either through direct consumption or indirectly, via trophic transfer, from prey to predator. The latter is a poorly understood, but potentially major, route of microplastic ingestion for marine top predators. 2. We developed a novel and effective methodology pipeline to investigate dietary exposure of wild top predators (grey seals; Halichoerus grypus) to microplastics, by combining scat‐based molecular techniques with a microplastic isolation method. We employed DNA metabarcoding, a rapid method of biodiversity assessment, to garner detailed information on prey composition from scats, and investigated the potential relationship between diet and microplastic burden. 3. Outcomes of the method development process and results of both diet composition from metabarcoding analysis and detection of microplastics are presented. Importantly, the pipeline performed well and initial results suggest the frequency of microplastics detected in seal scats may be related to the type of prey consumed. 4. Our non‐invasive, data‐rich approach maximizes time and resource–efficiency, while minimizing costs and sample volumes required for analysis. This pipeline could be used to underpin a much‐needed increase in understanding of the relationship between diet composition and rates of microplastic ingestion in high trophic level species.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: diet analysis, DNA, marine mammals, metabarcoding, microplastics, next‐generation sequencing, pinnipeds, prey composition
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 18 Oct 2019 08:23
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2019 14:21
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/8266

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