Although the perils of plastics to living organisms including humans have been neglected for decades, they have recently been recognized as a major environmental problem worldwide. Little progress has been made on understanding the factors that drive species’ and populations’ susceptibilities to the ingestion of plastic and heavy metals intake. Here, we propose using nutritional ecology as a multidisciplinary framework for bridging the gaps that link nutrition, behavior, plastics, heavy metals, physiology and ecology. We show that nutritional niches are tightly linked to plastic ingestion and heavy metals, illustrating the application of our framework in the context of nutritional niche theory, habitat-specific foraging from species to populations, and transfer patterns in food webs. Current projects in this theme include the bioaccumulation of trace metals and poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in marine mammals and exploring the negative effects of plastic ingestion in wildlife.

Selected publications

Machovsky-Capuska GE, von Haeften G, Romero MA, Rodríguez DH, Gerpe MS (2020). Linking cadmium and mercury accumulation to nutritional intake in common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from Patagonia, Argentina. Environmental Pollution. (IF 6.9)

Santos, RG, Andrades R, Demetrio GR, Kuwai GM, Sobral MF, de Souza Vieira J, Machovsky-Capuska GE (2020). Exploring plastic-induced satiety in foraging green turtles. Environmental Pollution. (IF 6.9)

Machovsky-Capuska GE, Andrades, R Santos RG (2020). Debris ingestion and nutritional niches in estuarine and reef green turtles. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 153:110943. (IF 4.4)

Machovsky-Capuska GE, Amiot C, Denuncio P, Grainger R, Raubenheimer D (2019). A nutritional perspective on plastic ingestion in wildlife. Science of the Total Environment, 656: 789-796. (IF 6.4)