Rising selenium levels at Truscott Brine Lake, Truscott, Texas: hazardous or harmless to the avian community?



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Texas Tech University


Selenium (Se) occurs naturally as a trace element in most soils and rock and is an essential micronutrient that is important in several biological processes. However, excess amounts of selenium can be toxic, especially to wildlife. Selenium toxicity in animals results from drinking water or consuming plants or animals in places where contaminated water has entered the food chain. Biomagnification of selenium in the aquatic food chain can dramatically increase the dietary concentrations of the element available to fish and birds that consume aquatic organisms. Consequently, a small increase in waterbome selenium will yield a disproportionately large increase in selenium levels offish and wildlife. Concentrations of selenium in water may not be toxic, but biomagnification may cause toxicity in higher trophic levels.



Truscott Brine Lake (Tex.), Selenium, Birds