Plant remains in the stomachs of Northern Fulmars

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Plant remains in the stomachs of Northern Fulmars

Gepubliceerd op
26 oktober 2017

Northern fulmars pick up and ingest many non-food items floating near the water surface, not just plastics.

Parallel to our monitoring of plastics at Wageningen Marine Research, colleagues Wim Kuijper (Leiden University) and Caroline Vermeeren (Biax Consultancy) identify plant remains from our samples from all over the North Sea.

Wild plant or garbage

Many objects could not be identified in detail, but over a 1000 stomachs from the period 2002-2013 did contain identifiable plant remains. These could be assigned to plants from natural vegetations (‘wild’, e.g. grass, moss or seeds from sorrel etc.) or to plant remains originating from human activities ('garbage' e.g. onion remains, cabbage leaves, pepper and tomato seeds, etc.).

Pepper seeds (Capsicum annuum) are an example of likely garbage type of seeds ingested.
Pepper seeds (Capsicum annuum) are an example of likely garbage type of seeds ingested.

Southern North Sea most polluted

The wild plant category may assist in assessing the distribution potential of seeds via seabirds. The results for garbage plants support those of the monitoring of plastic debris in the sense that they indicate higher human litter levels in the southern parts of the North Sea in comparison with more northern locations.

Proportions of garbage plant remains indicate higher input of litter in the Southern North Sea when compared to areas further north.
Proportions of garbage plant remains indicate higher input of litter in the Southern North Sea when compared to areas further north.