Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 1551–1570 | Cite as

Modeling Fate, Transport, and Biological Uptake of Selenium in North San Francisco Bay

  • Limin Chen
  • Shannon L. Meseck
  • Sujoy B. RoyEmail author
  • Thomas M. Grieb
  • Barbara Baginska


Selenium behavior in North San Francisco Bay, the largest estuary on the US Pacific coast, is simulated using a numerical model. This work builds upon a previously published application for simulating selenium in the bay and considers point and non-point sources, transport and mixing of selenium, transformations between different species of selenium, and biological uptake by phytoplankton, bivalves, and higher organisms. An evaluation of the calibrated model suggests that it is able to represent salinity, suspended material, and chlorophyll a under different flow conditions beyond the calibration period, through comparison against long-term data, and the distribution of different species of dissolved and particulate selenium. Model-calculated selenium concentrations in bivalves compared well to a long-term dataset, capturing the annual and seasonal variations over a 15-year period. In particular, the observed lower bivalve concentrations in the wet flow periods, corresponding to lower average particulate selenium concentrations in the bay, are well represented by the model, demonstrating the role of loading and hydrology in affecting clam concentrations. Simulated selenium concentrations in higher organisms including white sturgeon and greater scaup also compared well to the observed data in the bay. Finally, a simulation of changing riverine inflows into the bay that might occur as a consequence of proposed hydrologic modifications indicated significant increases in dissolved and particulate selenium concentrations in the bay. The modeling framework allows an examination of the relationship between selenium loads, variations in inflow, in-bay concentrations, and biota concentrations to support management for limiting wildlife impacts.


Bioaccumulation Selenium speciation TMDL Estuarine modeling ECoS 



We thank J.R.W. Harris for providing a copy of the ECoS modeling framework for this application. We thank Nicholas Fisher, Samuel Luoma, Regina Linville, and John Oram for serving as reviewers during the model development process and appreciate the comments of two anonymous reviewers of the manuscript. These inputs have strengthened the analysis and presentation of this work. Financial support for LC, SBR, and TMG was provided by the Western States Petroleum Association. Opinions expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not of the agencies they are employed by or of the funding entity.

Supplementary material

12237_2012_9530_MOESM1_ESM.doc (512 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 512 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Limin Chen
    • 1
  • Shannon L. Meseck
    • 2
  • Sujoy B. Roy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas M. Grieb
    • 1
  • Barbara Baginska
    • 3
  1. 1.Tetra Tech, Inc.LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.National Marine Fisheries ServiceMilfordUSA
  3. 3.San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control BoardOaklandUSA

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