KeywordsSelenium -- Environmental aspects -- Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (Ariz.)
Aquatic ecology -- Arizona.
Committee ChairMaughan, O. Eugene
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractI studied selenium contamination at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (Cibola NWR) in the lower Colorado River Valley, California and Arizona. My objectives were to: (1) determine whether local irrigation practices resulted in exposure of fish to toxic levels of selenium; (2) assess the risks to humans of consuming fish from Cibola NWR; (3) assess whether diversity and abundance of fish were related to selenium concentrations or other water quality variables. Water, sediment, fish, crayfish, and aquatic plants were collected from sites which received irrigation return flows and sites which did not. Selenium was below toxic levels at sites receiving irrigation return flows. Selenium was at the toxicity threshhold for fish at two sites receiving water directly from the Colorado River. Concentrations of selenium in fillets of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) from one lake exceeded levels that elicit consumption advisories in California. Most people would be unlikely to consume toxic amounts of fish, but an advisory should be posted to inform people about potential risks. Gill nets were used to determine species diversity and abundance. There were no strong correlations between selenium levels and indices of species richness and equitability. There was a consistent inverse relationship between selenium levels and catch-per-unit-effort for all species combined. This inverse relationship suggested that selenium may be one of a suite of factors limiting abundance of fish. Correlations between indices of species diversity and abundance and values of water quality variables generally were not significant. Temperature and salinity may have limited abundance of some species seasonally. Increases in selenium levels at sites that are already at the toxicity threshhold could impair reproduction of sensitive species. Population declines and concern about edibility of fish could impair the recreational fishery. Therefore, site-specific ways to reduce selenium accumulation should be studied and implemented. Site-specific limnological conditions may play a role in accumulation of selenium to toxic levels, but major sources of selenium appear to be upstream in the Colorado River basin rather than local agricultural practices. Therefore, selenium input to the Colorado River from sources throughout the basin should be monitored and reduced where possible.
Degree ProgramRenewable Natural Resources