Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 6, pp 1441–1453

Relationship of diversity and habitat area in North Pacific plastic-associated rafting communities

  • Miriam C. Goldstein
  • Henry S. Carson
  • Marcus Eriksen
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00227-014-2432-8

Cite this article as:
Goldstein, M.C., Carson, H.S. & Eriksen, M. Mar Biol (2014) 161: 1441. doi:10.1007/s00227-014-2432-8


Plastic and other anthropogenic debris (e.g., rubber, tar) augment natural floating substrates (e.g., algal rafts, pumice) in the open ocean, allowing “islands” of substrate-associated organisms to persist in an otherwise unsuitable habitat. We examined a total of 242 debris objects collected in the eastern Pacific in 2009 and 2011 (32–39°N, 130–142°W) and the western Pacific in 2012 (19–41°N, 143–156°E). Here, we ask: (a) What taxa are associated with plastic rafts in the North Pacific? and (b) Does the number of taxa associated with plastic debris vary with the size of the debris “island?” We documented 95 rafting taxa from 11 phyla. We identified several potentially invasive plastic-associated rafting taxa, including the coral pathogen Halofolliculina spp. In concordance with classic species–area curves, the number of rafting taxa was positively correlated with the size of the raft. Our findings suggest that diversity patterns on plastic debris are compatible with the concept of island biogeography.

Supplementary material

227_2014_2432_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (304 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 304 kb)
227_2014_2432_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (69 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 69 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam C. Goldstein
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henry S. Carson
    • 3
    • 4
  • Marcus Eriksen
    • 5
  1. 1.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.California Sea GrantLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.University of Hawaii at HiloHiloUSA
  4. 4.Washington Department of Fish and WildlifeOlympiaUSA
  5. 5.5 Gyres InstituteLos AngelesUSA

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