Plastic prevalence and distribution in bird nests in Valparaiso, IN
Dr. Laurie S. Eberhardt
Arts and Sciences
Thomas Paul - https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1512-7894, Laurie Eberhardt - https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0144-5821
Plastic pollution has become a focus of much concern in recent years, and many of the ecological and environmental consequences of plastic proliferation are still unknown. While much work has been done in recent years to understand plastic pollution in marine environments, the impacts of plastic pollution in terrestrial settings are still relatively unknown. In this study, local bird nests were collected and sorted based on material composition using qualitative and quantitative methods, such as where different materials were located in nests, and how much of the overall mass of nests was composed of each type of material. Nests were collected locally in Valparaiso, IN, from the university campus, Walmart, and other local suburban areas. Initial findings in this study on 25 nests of different species, including robin, cardinal, catbird, and oriole, seem to suggest that plastic materials are often present in bird nests, with many of those being types of plastic used for packaging or baggage material. Plastic and other anthropogenic materials found included grocery bag fragments, candy wrappers, netting, plastic string, foam packaging, landscaping cloth, and cigarette fragments. Furthermore, our findings indicate that plastic materials are used in nest construction for core structural purposes, often found in the bottom or sides of the main cup of the nest. Further research is needed to understand possible benefits and consequences of plastic use by birds in nest construction.
Paul, Thomas; Philips, Cole; Burke, Addi; Peck, Ethan; and Eberhardt, Laurie, "Plastic prevalence and distribution in bird nests in Valparaiso, IN" (2021). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 947.