Analysis of Bioaccumulation of Selenium Diets in Brook Trout (Salvelnius Fontinalis)

The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is facing many challenges throughout the Appalachian region, which are thought to be brought on by effects of climate change and the loss of habitat because of the disturbance from the pursuit of energy sources, namely, the mining of coal in the region. Most of the mining occurs in the central plateau and southern mountain region of West Virginia. The brook trout have historically had an expansive range covering this region and has the potential to inhabit the headwater stream systems that occur very prevalently throughout the Appalachians. In the state of West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) evaluated the effects of selenium (Se) toxicity and its bioaccumulation previously and proposed a whole-body tissue criteria of 8.0 ug/g for fish. High Se exposure has the potential to cause spinal, finfold and craniofacial deformities during larval development, leading to diminished population recruitment. The objective of this research was to determine if brook trout demonstrate bioaccumulation with dietary Se at rates which have been found to occur in mining regions. To try to recreate the absorption of Se through trophic transfer, the fish were fed a Se spiked diet of organic and non-organic forms of Se at rates of 10%, 30%, and 60% corresponding to actual ratios identifed in the Mud River watershed of West Virginia. The research herein found that individual trout absorbed Se as high as 8.10 ug/g within a 4-week period. Both the low and high Se concentration groups showed significant difference from the control. Brook trout Se absorption information was analyzed along with field collected samples of warm water species from the WVDEP to determine if differences between warm and cold water species were evident. Differences between field collected and lab-raised specimens were evident. The data collected may help identify what type of impact elevated selenium will have on trout that develop in mining influenced areas.