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

Sarah E. Nelms*, Helen E. Parry, Kimberley A. Bennett, Tamara S. Galloway, Brendan J. Godley, David Santillo, Penelope K. Lindeque

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    67 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Context: 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.

    Approach: 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.

    Results: 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.

    Conclusions: Our non-invasive, data rich approach maximises time and resource-efficiency, while minimising 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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1712-1722
    Number of pages11
    JournalMethods in Ecology and Evolution
    Volume10
    Issue number10
    Early online date12 Aug 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2019

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'What goes in, must come out: combining scat-based molecular diet analysis and quantification of ingested microplastics in a marine top predator'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Profiles

    No photo of Kimberley Bennett

    Kimberley Bennett

    Person: Academic

    Datasets

    Halichoerus grypus 18S ribosomal RNA gene, partial sequence

    Nelms, S. E. (Creator), Bennett, K. (Creator), Galloway, T. S. (Creator), Godley, B. J. (Creator) & Lindeque, P. K. (Creator), National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2018

    Dataset

    Cite this