A Department of the Interior (DOI) irrigation drainwater study of the Uncompahgre Project area and the Grand Valley in western Colorado revealed high selenium concentrations in water, sediment, and biota samples. The lower Gunnison River and the Colorado River in the study area are designated critical habitat for the endangered Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) and razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus). Because of the endangered status of these fish, sacrificing individuals for tissue residue analysis has been avoided; consequently, little information existed regarding selenium tissue residues. In 1994, muscle plugs were collected from a total of 39 Colorado pikeminnow captured at various Colorado River sites in the Grand Valley for selenium residue analysis. The muscle plugs collected from 16 Colorado pikeminnow captured at Walter Walker State Wildlife Area (WWSWA) contained a mean selenium concentration of 17 ??g/g dry weight, which was over twice the recommended toxic threshold guideline concentration of 8 ??g/g dry weight in muscle tissue for freshwater fish. Because of elevated selenium concentrations in muscle plugs in 1994, a total of 52 muscle plugs were taken during 1995 from Colorado pikeminnow staging at WWSWA. Eleven of these plugs were from fish previously sampled in 1994. Selenium concentrations in 9 of the 11 recaptured fish were significantly lower in 1995 than in 1994. Reduced selenium in fish may in part be attributed to higher instream flows in 1995 and lower water selenium concentrations in the Colorado River in the Grand Valley. In 1996, muscle plugs were taken from 35 Colorado squawfish captured at WWSWA, and no difference in mean selenium concentrations were detected from those sampled in 1995. Colorado River flows during 1996 were intermediate to those measured in 1994 and 1995.
Additional Publication Details
Selenium concentrations in the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius): Relationship with flows in the upper Colorado River
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology