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In 1998, we collected blood samples from 63 emperor geese (Chen canagica) on their breeding grounds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) in western Alaska, USA. We studied the relationship between selenium concentrations in whole blood and the activities of glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase in plasma. Experimental studies have shown that plasma activities of these enzymes are useful biomarkers of selenium-induced oxidative stress, but little information is available on their relationship to selenium in the blood of wild birds. Adult female emperor geese incubating their eggs in mid-June had a higher mean concentration of selenium in their blood and a greater activity of glutathione peroxidase in their plasma than adult geese or goslings that were sampled during the adult flight feathera??molting period in late July and early August. Glutathione peroxidase activity was positively correlated with the concentration of selenium in the blood of emperor geese, and the rate of increase relative to selenium was greater in goslings than in adults. The activity of glutathione reductase was greatest in the plasma of goslings and was greater in molting adults than incubating females but was not significantly correlated with selenium in the blood of adults or goslings. Incubating female emperor geese had high selenium concentrations in their blood, accompanied by increased glutathione peroxidase activity consistent with early oxidative stress. These findings indicate that further study of the effects of selenium exposure, particularly on reproductive success, is warranted in this species.
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Blood selenium concentrations and enzyme activities related to glutathione metabolism in wild emperor geese