Selenium toxicosis in wild aquatic birds

Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health
By: , and 



Severe gross and microscopic lesions and other changes were found in adult aquatic birds and in embryos from Kesterson Reservoir (a portion of Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge), Merced County, Calif., during 1984. Adult birds from that area were emaciated, had subacute to extensive chronic hepatic lesions, and had excess fluid and fibrin in the peritoneal cavity. Biochemical changes in their livers included elevated glycogen and non-protein-bound sulfhydryl concentrations and glutathione peroxidase activity but lowered protein, total sulfhydryl, and protein-bound sulfhydryl concentrations. Congenital malformations observed grossly in embryos were often multiple and included anophthalmia, microphthalmia, abnormal beaks, amelia, micromelia, ectrodactyly, and hydrocephaly. Mean concentrations of selenium in livers (94.4 ppm, dry weight) and kidneys (96.6 ppm) of birds collected at the Kesterson ponds were about 10 times those found at a nearby control area (8.3 and 12.2 ppm). We conclude that selenium present in the agricultural drainage water supplied to the Kesterson ponds accumulated in the food chain of aquatic birds to toxic concentrations and caused the lesion and other changes observed.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Selenium toxicosis in wild aquatic birds
Series title Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health
DOI 10.1080/15287398809531141
Volume 24
Issue 1
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 26 p.
First page 67
Last page 92
Country United States
State California
County Merced County
Other Geospatial Kesterton National Wildlife Refuge
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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