Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 561–568

Toxicity of organic and inorganic selenium to mallard ducklings


  • Gary H. Heinz
    • Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • David J. Hoffman
    • Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Lyn G. Gold
    • Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

DOI: 10.1007/BF01055823

Cite this article as:
Heinz, G.H., Hoffman, D.J. & Gold, L.G. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1988) 17: 561. doi:10.1007/BF01055823


The toxicity of selenomethionine and sodium selenite to mallard ducklings (Anas platyrhynchos) was measured by feeding each form from hatching to six weeks of age at dietary concentrations of 0, 10, 20, 40, and 80 ppm selenium. At 80 ppm selenium, sodium selenite caused 97.5% mortality by six weeks and selenomethionine caused 100% mortality. At 40 ppm, these two forms of selenium caused 25 and 12.5% mortality. No mortality occurred at 10 or 20 ppm. Diets containing 20, 40, or 80 ppm selenium in both forms caused decreases in food consumption and growth. The only statistically significant effect of 10 ppm selenium was with sodium selenite, which resulted in larger livers than controls. Selenomethionine was more readily stored in the liver than sodium selenite at levels above 10 ppm selenium in the diet. Based on comparisons of residues of selenium in livers of surviving and dead ducklings, concentrations in the liver were not diagnostic of death due to selenium poisoning. Because both forms of selenium resulted in severe reductions in food consumption, selenium-induced starvation may have been related to duckling mortality. It was not clear whether either form of selenium at 10 ppm in the diet resulted in a leveling off of selenium concentrations in the liver within six weeks.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988