Recommended best practices for plastic and litter ingestion studies in marine birds: Collection, processing, and reporting

Jennifer F. Provencher*, Stephanie B. Borrelle, Alexander L. Bond, Jennifer L. Lavers, Jan A. Van Franeker, Susanne Kühn, Sjúrður Hammer, Stephanie Avery-Gomm, Mark L. Mallory, Brett Favaro (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Marine plastic pollution is an environmental contaminant of significant concern. There is a lack of consistency in sample collection and processing that continues to impede meta-analyses and largescale comparisons across time and space. This is true for most taxa, including seabirds, which are the most studied megafauna group with regards to plastic ingestion research. Consequently, it is difficult to evaluate the impacts and extent of plastic contamination in seabirds fully and accurately, and to make inferences about species for which we have little or no data. We provide a synthesized set of recommendations specific for seabirds and plastic ingestion studies that include best practices in relation to sample collection, processing, and reporting, as well as highlighting some
“cross-cutting” methods. We include guidance for how carcasses, regurgitations, and pellets should be handled and treated to prevent cross-contamination, and a discussion of what size class of microplastics can be assessed in each sample type. Although we focus on marine bird samples, we also include standardized techniques to remove sediment and biological material that are generalizable
to other taxa. Lastly, metrics and data presentation of ingested plastics are briefly reviewed in the context of seabird studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-130
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • bird
  • bolus
  • diet analysis
  • marine debris
  • method standardization
  • necropsy
  • plastic debris
  • plastic ingestion


Dive into the research topics of 'Recommended best practices for plastic and litter ingestion studies in marine birds: Collection, processing, and reporting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this