PRELIMINARY DOCUMENTATION OF THE PRESENCE OF MICROPLASTICS IN THE GASTROINTESTINAL TRACTS OF TERRESTRIAL RAPTORS
|Alexis L. Leviner; California Polytechnic State University- San Luis Obispo; firstname.lastname@example.org; John D. Perrine|
Microplastics are persistent environmental contaminants that have been recently documented in numerous ecological systems. Microplastics were documented in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of terrestrial raptors in central Florida in 2018. We derived microplastic isolation protocols from that study to populate a baseline dataset of microplastics in the GI tracts of terrestrial raptors on the central coast of California. From January through August 2021, raptor carcasses were donated to our project by Pacific Wildlife Care, a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in Morro Bay, CA. Sixteen carcasses were examined: three Red-Tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), four Red-Shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus), two Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus), and seven Barn Owls (Tyto alba). We found trace amounts of microplastics in the GI tracts of all sixteen individuals, with a mean (± SE) of 12.25 (± 1.89) microplastic particles per bird. Of the total of 196 microplastic particles we observed, microfibers were the most abundant (58%), followed by microbeads (34%) and microfragments (8%). Our future research aims to utilize micro-Fourier spectroscopy to identify polymers from this baseline dataset. The ecological and physiological implications of microplastics upon these species are unclear and warrant further study.