Selenium Accumulation in Sea Ducks Wintering at Lake Ontario

  • Michael L. SchummerEmail author
  • Shannon S. Badzinski
  • Scott A. Petrie
  • Yu-Wei Chen
  • Nelson Belzile


Numbers of wintering sea ducks, including buffleheads (Bucephala albeola; BUFF), common goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula; COGO), and long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis; LTDU), increased substantially at Lake Ontario after Dreissenid mussels (Dreissena bugensis and D. polymorpha) colonized the Great Lakes. Invertebrates, including Dreissenid mussels, are major diving duck prey items that can transfer some trace elements, such as selenium (Se) to higher trophic levels. Se can be problematic for waterfowl and it often has been detected at elevated levels in organisms using the Great Lakes. There are, however, few data on hepatic Se concentrations in sea ducks, particularly during the winter at Lake Ontario. In this study, we evaluated interspecific differences and temporal trends in hepatic Se concentrations among BUFF (n = 77), COGO (n = 77), and LTDU (n = 79) wintering at Lake Ontario. All three species accumulated Se throughout winter, but COGO did so at a higher rate than did BUFF and LTDU. Overall, Se concentrations were higher in LTDU [\( {\bar{\text{x}}} = 22.7\); 95% CI = 20.8–24.8 μg/g dry weight (dw)] than in BUFF (\( {\bar{\text{x}}} = 1 2. 3 \); 95% CI = 11.6–13.1 μg/g dw) and COGO (\( {\bar{\text{x}}} = 1 2.0 \); 95% CI = 10.7–3.5 μg/g dw) throughout the winter. Se concentrations were deemed elevated (>33 μg/g dw) in 0%, 5%, and 19% of BUFF, COGO, and LTDU, respectively. Presently there are no data on Se toxicity end points for these species, so it is unclear how acquiring concentrations of these magnitudes affect their short- and long-term health or reproduction.


Quagga Mussel Diving Duck King Eider Dreissenid Mussel Lower Great Lake 
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Financial support was provided by Long Point Waterfowl, The Bluff’s Hunting Club, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc., the Waterfowl Research Foundation, Aylmer Order of Good Cheer, Ontario Power Generation, Long Point Waterfowlers’ Association, and the NSERC Metals in the Human Environment Strategic Network. Bird Studies Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service provided logistical support. We thank E. Craigie, G. Dunn, S. Fleming, R. Lancaster, S. A. Highmeadow, S. Meyer, B. Shroyer, F. G. Tanker, R. Ward, Sr., R. Ward, Jr., and D. Wight for field assistance. J. Donald, K. S. Fleming, S. Gil, A. Kosloski, C. LaFrance, J. Musada, S. Perez, and B. Shojaei provided laboratory assistance. K. Abraham, D. Ankney, C. Custer, S. Meyer, and M. Weegman provided helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Schummer
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Shannon S. Badzinski
    • 1
  • Scott A. Petrie
    • 1
  • Yu-Wei Chen
    • 3
  • Nelson Belzile
    • 3
  1. 1.Long Point Waterfowl, Bird Studies CanadaPort RowanCanada
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife & FisheriesMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada

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