Relationships between size and abundance in beach plastics: A power-law approach

Mar Pollut Bull. 2021 Dec;173(Pt A):113005. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.113005. Epub 2021 Sep 30.


Sandy beaches are one of the most relevant coastal environments in terms of socio-ecological and economical value. So, the presence and accumulation of plastic litter determines a degradation of these values, and calls for management actions for cleaning are required. In this research, we investigated the features of plastic litter distribution on a Mediterranean beach in relation to size and abundance of the sampled items. Simple allometric models were applied with the aim to provide a parsimonious tool for estimating the amount and sizes of the beach plastic litter. The results show effective relations between size and abundance of plastic items according to the power-law distribution. This relationship could support decision-makers to estimate the total amount of beach plastics through the application of a simple model instead of more complex models requiring the estimation of many parameters and the availability of large datasets.

Keywords: Beach management implications; Beach plastic litter; Power-law; Self-organized systems; Size-abundance relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Bathing Beaches*
  • Environment
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Plastics*
  • Waste Products / analysis


  • Plastics
  • Waste Products