Contaminant investigations of the Green River in northeastern Utah have documented selenium contamination at sites receiving irrigation drainage. The Green River provides critical habitat for four endangered fishes including the largest extant riverine population of endangered razorback sucker. Although 2175 larval razorback suckers were collected from the river between 1992 and 1996, very few juveniles have been captured within recent decades. Selenium concentrations were measured in larval razorback suckers collected from five sites in the Green River (Cliff Creek, Stewart Lake Drain, Sportsman's Drain, Greasewood Corral, and Old Charlie Wash) to assess the potential for adverse effects on recruitment of larvae to the juvenile stage and the adult population. Larvae from all sites contained mean selenium concentrations ranging from 4.3 to 5.8 ??g/g. These values were at or above the proposed toxic threshold of 4 ??g/g for adverse biological effects in fish, which was derived from several laboratory and field studies with a wide range of fish species. At two sites, Cliff Creek and Stewart Lake Drain, selenium concentrations in larvae increased over time as fish grew, whereas selenium concentrations decreased as fish grew at Sportsman's Drain. Evaluation of a 279-larvae composite analyzed for 61 elements demonstrated that selenium and, to a lesser extent, vanadium were elevated to concentrations reported to be toxic to a wide range of fish species. Elevated selenium concentrations in larval razorback suckers from the five sites suggest that selenium contamination may be widespread in the Green River, and that survival and recruitment of larvae to the juvenile stage may be limited due to adverse biological effects. Selenium contamination may be adversely affecting the reproductive success and recruitment of endangered razorback sucker.
Additional publication details
Hazard assessment of selenium and other trace elements in wild larval razorback sucker from the Green River, Utah