Boron (B) and selenium (Se) sometimes occur together in high concentrations in the environment and can accumulate in plants and invertebrates consumed by waterfowl. One hundred twenty-six pairs of breeding mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were fed diets supplemented with B (as boric acid) at 0, 450, or 900 ppm, in combination with Se (as seleno-DL-methionine) at 0, 3.5, or 7 ppm, in a replicated factorial experiment. Ducklings produced received the same treatment combination as their parents. Boron and Se accumulated in adult liver, egg, and duckling liver. In adults, B and Se caused weight loss, and B decreased hemoglobin concentration, egg weight, and egg fertility. Both B and Se reduced hatching success and duckling weight, and B reduced duckling growth and duckling production, and caused several alterations in duckling liver biochemistry. Duckling survival was not reduced by B or Se, and neither B nor Se had histopathologic effects on adult or duckling liver, kidney, or spleen. There was little evidence of interaction between B and Se. This study demonstrated that B and Se, in the chemical forms and at the dietary levels administered in this study, can adversely affect mallard reproduction and duckling growth.
Additional publication details
Effects of boron and selenium on mallard reproduction and duckling growth and survival