Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 1238–1249 | Cite as

Pressure and impact of anthropogenic litter on marine and estuarine reptiles: an updated “blacklist” highlighting gaps of evidence

  • Eleonora Staffieri
  • Giuseppe Andrea de Lucia
  • Andrea Camedda
  • Gianluca Poeta
  • Corrado BattistiEmail author
Review Article


We report an arrangement on the effect of anthropogenic litter on marine and estuarine reptiles, checking for evidence about different types of impact (ingestion vs. entanglement) and pressure (three size-based categories). From 1976 to 2018, we obtained a “blacklist” of 11 species impacted by marine litter (about 13% of 85 species of marine and estuarine reptiles), belonging to three orders (Testudines, Squamata, and Crocodilia). We obtained only occasional evidence of an impact for Squamata (Hidrophis elegans, Disteira major) and Crocodilia (Crocodylus porosus). Regarding the different types of pressure, the highest number of evidence has been obtained for macro-litter (10 species) and the lowest for micro-litter (4 species, all Chelonidae). Among Testudines, Lepidochelys kempii and Natator depressus evidenced a lack of data for micro-plastic. In Squamata, information is lacking for micro-plastic with only occasional references for meso-plastic (in Hydrophis elegans) and macro-plastic (Disteira major and Crocodylus porosus). We obtained a direct correlation between the research effort and the number of citations regarding different types of pressure and impact of marine litter: therefore, our blacklist of impacted species could be increased, carrying out further research focused on other poorly studied marine and estuarine reptiles. We suggest the use of a standardized nomenclature to reduce the amount of lost information.


Testudines Squamata Crocodilia Plastic Ingestion Entanglement Size-based criterion Standardization 



This study has been carried out inside the project “Anthropogenic marine litter and impact on biodiversity” (University of Rome III; Faculty of Science; Coordinator: Professor Alicia T.R. Acosta). We wish to thank A. Zocchi for providing useful comments and suggestions and for deeply reviewing the English style and language. An anonymous reviewer (and the Editor, Philippe Garrigues) provided useful suggestions that largely improved the first and second drafts of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3616_MOESM1_ESM.doc (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 21 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di ScienzeUniversità degli Studi di Roma TreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Institute for Coastal Marine Environment-National Research Council (IAMC-CNR)OristanoItaly
  3. 3.“Torre Flavia” LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) StationCittà Metropolitana di Roma Capitale - Servizio Aree protette - Parchi regionaliRomeItaly

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