Presentation Abstract

While an increasing number of studies have examined the presence and effects of microplastics in aquatic organisms like invertebrates and fish, there is still a dearth of knowledge about their impact on mammals in higher trophic levels. Both sea and river otters act as valuable indicators of ecosystem health and consume prey items that have been shown to contain microplastics. As such, we are investigating the ingestion of microplastics by sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) in the North Pacific using scat. Our study includes samples from ex-situ and in-situ individuals and also analyzes otter prey items for microplastic particles in order to evaluate the role trophic transfer may have in microplastic ingestion by otters. Additionally, we are examining archived river otter scat samples from the same site over multiple years to observe how the presence of microplastics in otter scat may have changed over time. This analysis could provide opportunities to understand the current level of microplastic ingestion by wild sea and river otters using a non-invasive method, which may be beneficial to understanding sea and river otter population health. Beyond the impacts this knowledge could have for North American otter species, the results could provide information about the exposure of other species to microplastics that share ecosystems of interest.

Session Title

Track: Contaminants, Plastics, Microplastics, Toxicology & Stormwater – Posters

Conference Track

Contaminants, Plastics, Microplastics, Toxicology & Stormwater

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2020 : Online)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

2020_abstractID_4126

Start Date

21-4-2020 9:00 AM

End Date

22-4-2020 4:45 PM

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Language

English

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Apr 21st, 9:00 AM Apr 22nd, 4:45 PM

Investigating the Presence and Trophic Transfer of Microplastics in Ex- and In-Situ North American Otters Through Scat and Diet Analysis

While an increasing number of studies have examined the presence and effects of microplastics in aquatic organisms like invertebrates and fish, there is still a dearth of knowledge about their impact on mammals in higher trophic levels. Both sea and river otters act as valuable indicators of ecosystem health and consume prey items that have been shown to contain microplastics. As such, we are investigating the ingestion of microplastics by sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) in the North Pacific using scat. Our study includes samples from ex-situ and in-situ individuals and also analyzes otter prey items for microplastic particles in order to evaluate the role trophic transfer may have in microplastic ingestion by otters. Additionally, we are examining archived river otter scat samples from the same site over multiple years to observe how the presence of microplastics in otter scat may have changed over time. This analysis could provide opportunities to understand the current level of microplastic ingestion by wild sea and river otters using a non-invasive method, which may be beneficial to understanding sea and river otter population health. Beyond the impacts this knowledge could have for North American otter species, the results could provide information about the exposure of other species to microplastics that share ecosystems of interest.