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Temporal influences on selenium partitioning, trophic transfer, and exposure in a major U.S. river

February 22, 2021

Hydrologic and irrigation regimes mediate the timing of selenium (Se) mobilization to rivers, but the extent to which patterns in Se uptake and trophic transfer through recipient food webs reflect the temporal variation in Se delivery is unknown. We investigated Se mobilization, partitioning, and trophic transfer along approximately 60 river miles of the selenium-impaired segment of the Lower Gunnison River (Colorado, USA) during six sampling trips between June 2015 and October 2016. We found temporal patterns in Se partitioning and trophic transfer to be independent of those in dissolved Se concentrations and that the recipient food web sustained elevated Se concentrations from earlier periods of high Se mobilization. Using an ecosystem-scale Se accumulation model tailored to the Lower Gunnison River, we predicted that the endangered Razorback Sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) and Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) achieve whole-body Se concentrations exceeding aquatic life protection criteria during periods of high runoff and irrigation activity (April–August) that coincide with susceptible phases of reproduction and early-life development. The results of this study challenge assumptions about Se trophodynamics in fast-flowing waters and introduce important considerations for the management of Se risks for biota in river ecosystems.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Temporal influences on selenium partitioning, trophic transfer, and exposure in a major U.S. river
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.0c06582
Authors Jessica E Brandt, James J. Roberts, Craig A. Stricker, Holly Rogers, Patricia Nease, Travis S. Schmidt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science and Technology
Index ID 70223867
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center; Great Lakes Science Center; WY-MT Water Science Center