• A Horizon Scan of research priorities to inform policies aimed at reducing the harm of plastic pollution to biota

      Provencher, JF; Liboiron, M; Borrelle, SB; Bond, AL; Rochman, C; Lavers, JL; Avery-Gomm, S; Yamashita, R; Ryan, PG; Lusher, AL; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-09-01)
      Plastic pollution in the oceans is a priority environmental issue. The recent increase in research on the topic, coupled with growing public awareness, has catalyzed policymakers around the world to identify and implement solutions that minimize the harm caused by plastic pollution. To aid and coordinate these efforts, we surveyed experts with scientific experience identified through their peer-reviewed publications. We asked experts about the most pressing research questions relating to how biota interact with plastic pollution that in turn can inform policy decisions and research agendas to best contribute to understanding and reducing the harm of plastic pollution to biota. We used a modified Horizon Scan method that first used a subgroup of experts to generate 46 research questions on aquatic biota and plastics, and then conducted an online survey of researchers globally to prioritize questions in terms of their importance to inform policy development. One hundred and fifteen experts from 29 countries ranked research questions in six themes. The questions were ranked by urgency, indicating which research should be addressed immediately, which can be addressed later, and which are of limited relevance to inform action on plastics as an environmental pollutant. We found that questions relating to the following four themes were the most commonly top-ranked research priorities: (i) sources, circulation and distribution of plastics, (ii) type of harm from plastics, (iii) detection of ingested plastics and the associated problems, and (iv) related economies and policy to ingested plastics. While there are many research questions on the topic of impacts of plastic pollution on biota that could be funded and investigated, our results focus collective priorities in terms of research that experts believe will inform effective policy and on-the-ground conservation.
    • Deep-Sea Mining: Processes and Impacts

      Jones, Daniel; Amon, Diva; Chapman, Abbie (Oxford University Press, 2020-08-27)
      Mining the extensive accumulations of minerals on the seafloor of the deep ocean can provide important resources but also has the potential to lead to widespread environmental impacts. Some of these impacts are unknown but there are expected to be differences between the mining of the three main resource types: polymetallic nodules, seafloor massive sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts. Here we detail the mining processes as well as the expected impacts of mining and discuss their potential effects to deep-ocean ecosystems. We also highlight the missing evidence needed to underpin effective environmental management and regulation of the nascent deep-sea mining industry.
    • Seasonal ingestion of anthropogenic debris in an urban population of gulls

      Stewart, LG; Lavers, JL; Grant, ML; Puskic, PS; Bond, AL (Elsevier BV, 2020-08-15)
      Gulls are generalist seabirds, increasingly drawn to urban environments where many species take advantage of abundant food sources, such as landfill sites. Despite this, data on items ingested at these locations, including human refuse, is limited. Here we investigate ingestion of prey and anthropogenic debris items in boluses (regurgitated pellets) from Pacific Gulls (Larus pacificus). A total of 374 boluses were collected between 2018 and 2020 in Tasmania. Debris was present in 92.51% of boluses (n = 346), with plastic (86.63%, n = 324) and glass (64.71%, n = 242) being the most prominent types. An abundance of intact, household items (e.g., dental floss, food wrappers) suggest the gulls regularly feed at landfill sites. In addition, the boluses are deposited at a roosting site located within an important wetland, thus we propose that the gulls may be functioning as a previously unrecognised vector of anthropogenic debris from urban centres to aquatic environments.
    • Ensuring tests of conservation interventions build on existing literature

      Sutherland, WJ; Alvarez‐Castañeda, ST; Amano, T; Ambrosini, R; Atkinson, P; Baxter, JM; Bond, AL; Boon, PJ; Buchanan, KL; Barlow, J; et al. (Wiley, 2020-08-11)
    • Biological archives reveal contrasting patterns in trace element concentrations in pelagic seabird feathers over more than a century

      Bond, AL; Lavers, JL (Elsevier, 2020-08-01)
      Contamination of diverse environments and wild species by some contaminants is projected to continue and increase in coming decades. In the marine environment, large volumes of data to assess how concentrations have changed over time can be gathered from indicator species such as seabirds, including through sampling feathers from archival collections and museums. As apex predators, Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) are subject to high concentrations of bioaccumulative and biomagnifying contaminants, and reflect the health of their local marine environment. We analysed Flesh-footed Shearwater feathers from Australia from museum specimens and live birds collected between 1900 and 2011 and assessed temporal trends in three trace elements of toxicological concern: cadmium, mercury, and lead. Concentrations of cadmium increased by 1.5% per year (95% CI: +0.6, +3.0), while mercury was unchanged through the time series (−0.3% per year; 05% CI: -2.1, +1.5), and lead decreased markedly (−2.1% per year, 95% CI: -3.2, −1.0). A reduction in birds’ trophic position through the 20th century, and decreased atmospheric emissions were the likely driving factors for mercury and lead, respectively. By combining archival material from museum specimens with contemporary samples, we have been able to further elucidate the potential threats posed to these apex predators by metal contamination.
    • Deep-Sea Misconceptions Cause Underestimation of Seabed-Mining Impacts

      Smith, CR; Tunnicliffe, V; Colaço, A; Drazen, JC; Gollner, S; Levin, LA; Mestre, NC; Metaxas, A; Molodtsova, TN; Morato, T; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-07-31)
      Scientific misconceptions are likely leading to miscalculations of the environmental impacts of deepseabed mining. These result from underestimating mining footprints relative to habitats targeted and poor understanding of the sensitivity, biodiversity, and dynamics of deep-sea ecosystems. Addressing these misconceptions and knowledge gaps is needed for effective management of deep-seabed mining.
    • Evidence of Vent-Adaptation in Sponges Living at the Periphery of Hydrothermal Vent Environments: Ecological and Evolutionary Implications

      Georgieva, MN; Taboada, Sergio; Riesgo, A; Díez-Vives, C; De Leo, FC; Jeffreys, RM; Copley, JT; Little, Crispin; Ríos, P; Cristobo, J; et al. (Frontiers Media SA, 2020-07-24)
      The peripheral areas of deep-sea hydrothermal vents are often inhabited by an assemblage of animals distinct to those living close to vent chimneys. For many such taxa, it is considered that peak abundances in the vent periphery relate to the availability of hard substrate as well as the increased concentrations of organic matter generated at vents, compared to background areas. However, the peripheries of vents are less well-studied than the assemblages of vent-endemic taxa, and the mechanisms through which peripheral fauna may benefit from vent environments are generally unknown. Understanding this is crucial for evaluating the sphere of influence of hydrothermal vents and managing the impacts of future human activity within these environments, as well as offering insights into the processes of metazoan adaptation to vents. In this study, we explored the evolutionary histories, microbiomes and nutritional sources of two distantly-related sponge types living at the periphery of active hydrothermal vents in two different geological settings (Cladorhiza from the E2 vent site on the East Scotia Ridge, Southern Ocean, and Spinularia from the Endeavour vent site on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, North-East Pacific) to examine their relationship to nearby venting. Our results uncovered a close sister relationship between the majority of our E2 Cladorhiza specimens and the species Cladorhiza methanophila, known to harbor and obtain nutrition from methanotrophic symbionts at cold seeps. Our microbiome analyses demonstrated that both E2 Cladorhiza and Endeavour Spinularia sp. are associated with putative chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria, including Thioglobaceae (present in both sponge types) and Methylomonaceae (present in Spinularia sp.). These bacteria are closely related to chemoautotrophic symbionts of bathymodiolin mussels. Both vent-peripheral sponges demonstrate carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures consistent with contributions to nutrition from chemosynthesis. This study expands the number of known associations between metazoans and potentially chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria, indicating that they can be incredibly widespread and also occur away from the immediate vicinity of chemosynthetic environments in the vent-periphery, where these sponges may be adapted to benefit from dispersed vent fluids.
    • A critical review of harm associated with plastic ingestion on vertebrates

      Puskic, PS; Lavers, JL; Bond, AL (Elsevier BV, 2020-07-07)
      Studies documenting plastic ingestion in animals have increased in recent years. Many do not describe the less conspicuous, sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion, such as reduced body condition or physiological changes. This means the severity of this global problem may have been underestimated. We conducted a critical review on the sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion on marine vertebrates (excluding fish). We found 34 papers which tried to measure plastics' impact using a variety of tools, and less than half of these detected any impact. The most common tools used were visual observations and body condition indices. Tools that explore animal physiology, such as histopathology, are a promising future approach to uncover the sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion in vertebrates. We encourage exploring impacts on species beyond the marine environment, using multiple tools or approaches, and continued research to discern the hidden impacts of plastic on global wildlife.
    • Challenges to the sustainability of deep-seabed mining

      Levin, Lisa; Amon, Diva; Lily, H (Springer, 2020-07-06)
      This Review focuses on whether the emerging industry of deep-seabed mining aligns with the sustainable development agenda. We cover motivations for deep-seabed mining, including to source metals for technology that assists with decarbonization, as well as governance issues surrounding the extraction of minerals. Questions of sustainability and ethics, including environmental, legal, social and rights-based challenges, are considered. Slowing the transition from exploration to exploitation and promoting a circular economy may have regulatory, technological and environmental benefits.
    • The increased sensitivity of qPCR in comparison to Kato-Katz is required for the accurate assessment of the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infection in settings that have received multiple rounds of mass drug administration

      Dunn, JC; PAPAIAKOVOU, MARINA; Han, KT; Chooneea, D; Bettis, AA; Wyine, NY; Lwin, AMM; Maung, NS; Misra, Raju; Littlewood, T; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-06-24)
      Background The most commonly used diagnostic tool for soil-transmitted helminths (STH) is the Kato-Katz (KK) thick smear technique. However, numerous studies have suggested that the sensitivity of KK can be problematic, especially in low prevalence and low intensity settings. An emerging alternative is quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Methods In this study, both KK and qPCR were conducted on stool samples from 648 participants in an STH epidemiology study conducted in the delta region of Myanmar in June 2016. Results Prevalence of any STH was 20.68% by KK and 45.06% by qPCR. Prevalence of each individual STH was also higher by qPCR than KK, the biggest difference was for hookworm with an approximately 4-fold increase between the two diagnostic techniques. Prevalence of Ancylostoma ceylanicum, a parasite predominately found in dogs, was 4.63%, indicating that there is the possibility of zoonotic transmission in the study setting. In individuals with moderate to high intensity infections there is evidence for a linear relationship between eggs per gram (EPG) of faeces, derived from KK, and DNA copy number, derived from qPCR which is particularly strong for Ascaris lumbricoides. Conclusions The use of qPCR in low prevalence settings is important to accurately assess the epidemiological situation and plan control strategies for the ‘end game’. However, more work is required to accurately assess STH intensity from qPCR results and to reduce the cost of qPCR so that is widely accessible in STH endemic countries.
    • Climate change considerations are fundamental to management of deep‐sea resource extraction

      Levin, Lisa; WEI, CHIH-LIN; Dunn, Daniel; Amon, Diva; Ashford, Oliver; Cheung, William; Colaco, Ana; Dominguez-Carrió, Carlos; Escobar Briones, Elva; Harden‐Davies, HR; et al. (Wiley, 2020-06-12)
      Climate change manifestation in the ocean, through warming, oxygen loss, increasing acidification, and changing particulate organic carbon flux (one metric of altered food supply), is projected to affect most deep‐ocean ecosystems concomitantly with increasing direct human disturbance. Climate drivers will alter deep‐sea biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, and may interact with disturbance from resource extraction activities or even climate geoengineering. We suggest that to ensure the effective management of increasing use of the deep ocean (e.g., for bottom fishing, oil and gas extraction, and deep‐seabed mining), environmental management and developing regulations must consider climate change. Strategic planning, impact assessment and monitoring, spatial management, application of the precautionary approach, and full‐cost accounting of extraction activities should embrace climate consciousness. Coupled climate and biological modeling approaches applied in the water and on the seafloor can help accomplish this goal. For example, Earth‐System Model projections of climate‐change parameters at the seafloor reveal heterogeneity in projected climate hazard and time of emergence (beyond natural variability) in regions targeted for deep‐seabed mining. Models that combine climate‐induced changes in ocean circulation with particle tracking predict altered transport of early life stages (larvae) under climate change. Habitat suitability models can help assess the consequences of altered larval dispersal, predict climate refugia, and identify vulnerable regions for multiple species under climate change. Engaging the deep observing community can support the necessary data provisioning to mainstream climate into the development of environmental management plans. To illustrate this approach, we focus on deep‐seabed mining and the International Seabed Authority, whose mandates include regulation of all mineral‐related activities in international waters and protecting the marine environment from the harmful effects of mining. However, achieving deep‐ocean sustainability under the UN Sustainable Development Goals will require integration of climate consideration across all policy sectors.
    • XIX International Botanical Congress, Shenzhen: report of the Nomenclature Section, 17th to 21st July 2017

      Lindon, HL; Hartley, H; Knapp, S; M. Monro, A; Turland, NJ (Pensoft Publishers, 2020-06-08)
    • Ingested plastic and trace element concentrations in Short-tailed Shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris)

      Puskic, PS; Lavers, JL; Adams, LR; Bond, AL (Elsevier, 2020-06-01)
      Pollution of marine environments is concerning for complex trophic systems. Two anthropogenic stresses associated with marine pollution are the introduction of marine plastic and their associated chemicals (e.g., trace elements) which, when ingested, may cause harm to wildlife. Here we explore the relationship between plastic ingestion and trace element burden in the breast muscle of Short-tailed Shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris). We found no relationship between the amount of plastic ingested and trace element concentration in the birds' tissues. Though the mass and number of plastic items ingested by birds during 1969–2017 did not change significantly, trace element concentrations of some elements (Cu, Zn, As, Rb, Sr and Cd), appeared to have increased in birds sampled in 2017 compared to limited data from prior studies. We encourage policy which considers the data gleaned from this sentinel species to monitor the anthropogenic alteration of the marine environment.
    • Deep-Sea Debris in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean

      Amon, Diva; Kennedy, BRC; Cantwell, K; Suhre, K; Glickson, D; Shank, TM; Rotjan, RD (Frontiers Media SA, 2020-05-27)
      Marine debris is a growing problem in the world’s deep ocean. The naturally slow biological and chemical processes operating at depth, coupled with the types of materials that are used commercially, suggest that debris is likely to persist in the deep ocean for long periods of time, ranging from hundreds to thousands of years. However, the realized scale of marine debris accumulation in the deep ocean is unknown due to the logistical, technological, and financial constraints related to deep-ocean exploration. Coordinated deep-water exploration from 2015 to 2017 enabled new insights into the status of deep-sea marine debris throughout the central and western Pacific Basin via ROV expeditions conducted onboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and RV Falkor. These expeditions included sites in United States protected areas and monuments, other Exclusive Economic Zones, international protected areas, and areas beyond national jurisdiction. Metal, glass, plastic, rubber, cloth, fishing gear, and other marine debris were encountered during 17.5% of the 188 dives from 150 to 6,000 m depth. Correlations were observed between deep-sea debris densities and depth, geological features, and distance from human-settled land. The highest densities occurred off American Samoa and the main Hawaiian Islands. Debris, mostly consisting of fishing gear and plastic, were also observed in most of the large-scale marine protected areas, adding to the growing body of evidence that even deep, remote areas of the ocean are not immune from human impacts. Interactions with and impacts on biological communities were noted, though further study is required to understand the full extent of these impacts. We also discuss potential sources and long-term implications of this debris.
    • The potential of the solitary parasitoid Microctonus brassicae for the biological control of the adult cabbage stem flea beetle, Psylliodes chrysocephala

      Jordan, A; Broad, G; Stigenberg, J; Hughes, J; Stone, J; Bedford, I; Penfield, S; Wells, R (Wiley, 2020-05-15)
      The cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB), Psylliodes chrysocephala L. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is a major pest of oilseed rape, Brassica napus L. (Brassicaceae), within the UK and continental Europe. Following the withdrawal of many broad‐spectrum pesticides, most importantly neonicotinoids, and with increased incidence of pyrethroid resistance, few chemical control options remain, resulting in the need for alternative pest management strategies. We identified the parasitoid wasp Microctonus brassicae (Haeselbarth) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) within CSFB collected from three independent sites in Norfolk, UK. Parasitism of adult CSFB was confirmed, and wasp oviposition behaviour was described. Moreover, we show that within captive colonies parasitism rates are sufficient to generate significant biological control of CSFB populations. A sequence of the M. brassicae mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (MT‐CO1) gene was generated for rapid future identification. Moroccan specimens of Microctonus aethiopoides (Loan), possessing 90% sequence similarity, were the closest identified sequenced species. This study represents the first description published in English of this parasitoid of the adult cabbage stem flea beetle.
    • Comparative morphology of immature Trictenotoma formosana Kriesche, 1919 and systematic position of the Trictenotomidae (Coleoptera, Tenebrionoidea)

      Hu, F-S; Pollock, DA; Telnov, Dmitry (Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle, 2020-05-05)
      Detailed description and illustrations of immature Trictenotoma Gray, 1832 (Trictenotomidae Blanchard, 1845) are presented for the first time, based on larvae and pupae of T. formosana Kriesche, 1919. Characters exhibited by the mature larva are similar to those described by Gahan (1908) for T. childreni Gray, 1832, which was based on a single specimen. The phylogenetic position of Trictenotomidae has varied among Scarabaeoidea, Chrysomeloidea and Tenebrionoidea, though recent studies place the family clearly among the latter. Features of the immature stages described here corroborate this placement. Evidence supports placement within or near the “salpingid group” (Pythidae, Salpingidae, Boridae, Pyrochroidae). Distinguishing features of the mature trictenotomid larva include the absence of stemmata, antennal sensorium, urogomphal pit(s) and lip, the presence of paired series of longitudinal ridges on the meso- and metathorax and abdominal tergites 1–8 and sternites 2–8, a paired arcuate row of 12–15 asperities on the anterior margin of sternite 9 and relatively short, upturned urogomphi. The systematic position of trictenotomids within the Tenebrionoidea Latreille, 1802 is confirmed. The phylogenetic relationships among Trictenotomidae and other “salpingid group” members (e.g., Pythidae Solier, 1834 and Salpingidae Leach, 1815) are highlighted and discussed, solving an almost two centuries old puzzle in Coleoptera systematics.
    • Molecular circumscription of new species of Gyrocotyle Diesing, 1850 (Cestoda) from deep-sea chimaeriform holocephalans in the North Atlantic

      Bray, RA; Waeschenbach, A; Littlewood, T; Halvorsen, O; Olson, PD (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-04-23)
      Chimaeras, or ratfishes, are the only extant group of holocephalan fishes and are the sole host group of gyrocotylidean cestodes, which represent a sister group of the true tapeworms (Eucestoda). These unique, non-segmented cestodes have been known since the 1850s and multiple species and genera have been erected despite a general agreement that the delineation of species on the basis of morphology is effectively impossible. Thus, in the absence of molecular studies, the validity of gyrocotylid taxa and their specific host associations has remained highly speculative. Here we report the presence of Gyrocotyle spp. from rarely-caught deep-sea chimaeras collected in the North-East Atlantic, and describe two new species: G. haffii n. sp. from the bent-nose chimaera, Harriota raleighana Goode & Bean, and G. discoveryi n. sp. from the large-eyed rabbit fish, Hydrolagus mirabilis (Collett). Nuclear ribosomal sequence data were generated for individual parasites taken from different host species collected on different dates and from different localities and were combined with previously published sequences. Phylogenetic analyses supported the recognition of independent lineages and clusters, indicative of species, but were indecisive in recovering the root of the tree in analyses that included non-gyrocotylid outgroup taxa. The molecular data reveal variation not reflected in morphology and point to a complex picture of genetic divergence shaped by both isolation and migration in the deep-sea environment.
    • Environmental control on the distribution of metabolic strategies of benthic microbial mats in Lake Fryxell, Antarctica

      Dillon, ML; Hawes, I; Jungblut, Anne D.; Mackey, TJ; Eisen, JA; Doran, PT; Sumner, DY (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2020-04-13)
      Ecological theories posit that heterogeneity in environmental conditions greatly affects community structure and function. However, the degree to which ecological theory developed using plant- and animal-dominated systems applies to microbiomes is unclear. Investigating the metabolic strategies found in microbiomes are particularly informative for testing the universality of ecological theories because microorganisms have far wider metabolic capacity than plants and animals. We used metagenomic analyses to explore the relationships between the energy and physicochemical gradients in Lake Fryxell and the metabolic capacity of its benthic microbiome. Statistical analysis of the relative abundance of metabolic marker genes and gene family diversity shows that oxygenic photosynthesis, carbon fixation, and flavin-based electron bifurcation differentiate mats growing in different environmental conditions. The pattern of gene family diversity points to the likely importance of temporal environmental heterogeneity in addition to resource gradients. Overall, we found that the environmental heterogeneity of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and oxygen concentration ([O2]) in Lake Fryxell provide the framework by which metabolic diversity and composition of the community is structured, in accordance with its phylogenetic structure. The organization of the resulting microbial ecosystems are consistent with the maximum power principle and the species sorting model.
    • New names and status for Pacific spiny species of Solanum (Solanaceae, subgenus Leptostemonum Bitter; the Leptostemonum Clade)

      McClelland, DHR; Nee, M; Knapp, S (Pensoft Publishers, 2020-04-10)
      Five new species of spiny solanums (Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum Bitter; the Leptostemonum Clade) are described from the islands of the Pacific. Two of the new species are from Fiji (S. pseudopedunculatum D.McClelland, sp. nov. and S. ratale D.McClelland, sp. nov.), two from New Caledonia (S. memoayanum D.McClelland, sp. nov. and S. semisucculentum D.McClelland, sp. nov.), one from Papua New Guinea (S. labyrinthinum D.McClelland, sp. nov.) and another from Vanuatu (S. vanuatuense D.McClelland, sp. nov.). A new status and combination is provided for the rare Hawaiian endemic S. caumii (F.Br.) D.McClelland, comb. et stat. nov. and a new type designated for S. peekelii Bitter of Papua New Guinea, for which a description is also provided. All species are illustrated with digitized herbarium specimens, mapped and have been assigned a preliminary conservation status using current IUCN guidelines. Details of all specimens examined are provided in a Suppl. materials 1: file SM1.
    • The mitogenome of a Malagasy butterfly Malaza fastuosus (Mabille, 1884) recovered from the holotype collected over 140 years ago adds support for a new subfamily of Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera)

      Zhang, J; Lees, David; Shen, J; Cong, Q; Huertas, B; Martin, G; Grishin, NV (Canadian Science Publishing, 2020-04)
      Malaza fastuosus is a lavishly patterned skipper butterfly from a genus that has three described species, all endemic to the mainland of Madagascar. To our knowledge, M. fastuosus has not been collected for nearly 50 years. To evaluate the power of our techniques to recover DNA, we used a single foreleg of an at least 140-year-old holotype specimen from the collection of the Natural History Museum London with no destruction of external morphology to extract DNA and assemble a complete mitogenome from next generation sequencing reads. The resulting 15 540 bp mitogenome contains 13 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNA genes, two ribosomal RNA genes, and an A+T rich region, similarly to other Lepidoptera mitogenomes. Here we provide the first mitogenome also for Trapezitinae (Rachelia extrusus). Phylogenetic analysis of available skipper mitogenomes places Malaza outside of Trapezitinae and Barcinae + Hesperiinae, with a possible sister relationship to Heteropterinae. Of these, at least Heteropterinae, Trapezitinae, and almost all Hesperiinae have monocot-feeding caterpillars. Malaza appears to be an evolutionarily highly distinct ancient lineage, morphologically with several unusual hesperiid features. The monotypic subfamily Malazinae Lees & Grishin subfam. nov. (type genus Malaza) is proposed to reflect this morphological and molecular evidence.