Conley, J.M., D.H. Funk, N.J. Cariello, and D.B. Buchwalter. 2011. Ecotoxicology 20:1840–1851.
Selenium effects in nature are mediated by the relatively large bioconcentration of aqueous Se by primary producers and smaller, yet critical, dietary transfers to primary consumers. These basal processes are then propagated through food webs to higher trophic levels. Here we quantified the movement of dissolved Se (as selenite) to periphyton, and used the resultant periphyton as a food source for conducting full life-cycle dietary Se exposures to the mayfly Centroptilum triangulifer. Periphyton bioconcentrated Se ~2,200-fold from solution in a log-linear fashion over dissolved Se concentrations ranging from 1.1 to 23.1 μg L−1. We examined the influence of two feeding ration levels (1x and 2x) on trophic transfer, tissue Se concentrations, maternal transfer, and functional endpoints of mayfly performance. Mayflies fed a lesser ration (1x) displayed greater trophic transfer factors (mean TTF, 2.8 ± 0.4) than mayflies fed 2x rations (mean TTF, 1.1 ± 0.3). In 1x exposures, mayflies exhibited significant (p < 0.05) reductions in survivorship and total body mass at dietary [Se] ≥ 11.9 μg g−1, reduced total fecundity at ≥4.2 μg g−1, and delayed development at ≥27.2 μg g−1. Mayflies fed a greater ration (2x) displayed reduced tissue Se concentrations (apparently via growth dilution) relative to 1x mayflies, with no significant effects on performance. These results suggest that the influence of Se on mayfly performance in nature may be tied to food resource availability and quality. Furthermore, nutritional status is an important consideration when applying laboratory derived estimates of toxicity to risk assessments for wild populations.