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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 492:41-56 (2013)  -  DOI:

Influence of estuarine processes on spatiotemporal variation in bioavailable selenium

A. Robin Stewart1,*, Samuel N. Luoma1,2, Kent A. Elrick3, James L. Carter1, Mick van der Wegen4,5

1US Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, California 94025, USA
2John Muir Institute of the Environment, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA
3Georgia State University, 24 Peachtree Center Avenue, Kell Hall, Suite 340, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA
4UNESCO-International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE), PO Box 3015,
2601 DA Delft, The Netherlands
5Deltares, PO Box 177, Delft, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Dynamic processes (physical, chemical and biological) challenge our ability to quantify and manage the ecological risk of chemical contaminants in estuarine environments. Selenium (Se) bioavailability (defined by bioaccumulation), stable isotopes and molar carbon-to-nitrogen ratios in the benthic clam Potamocorbula amurensis, an important food source for predators, were determined monthly for 17 yr in northern San Francisco Bay. Se concentrations in the clams ranged from a low of 2 to a high of 22 µg g-1 over space and time. Little of that variability was stochastic, however. Statistical analyses and preliminary hydrodynamic modeling showed that a constant mid-estuarine input of Se, which was dispersed up- and down-estuary by tidal currents, explained the general spatial patterns in accumulated Se among stations. Regression of Se bioavailability against river inflows suggested that processes driven by inflows were the primary driver of seasonal variability. River inflow also appeared to explain interannual variability but within the range of Se enrichment established at each station by source inputs. Evaluation of risks from Se contamination in estuaries requires the consideration of spatial and temporal variability on multiple scales and of the processes that drive that variability.

KEY WORDS: Selenium · Bioaccumulation · Exposure · Estuaries · Biomonitoring · Hydrology

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Cite this article as: Stewart AR, Luoma SN, Elrick KA, Carter JL, van der Wegen M (2013) Influence of estuarine processes on spatiotemporal variation in bioavailable selenium. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 492:41-56.

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