John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Microchemical analysis of selenium in otoliths of two West Virginia fishes captured near mountaintop removal coal mining operations

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Otoliths, calcified inner ear structures, were collected from creek chubs (Semotilus atromaculatus) and green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) living in mountaintop‐mining‐impacted and reference streams and analyzed for selenium (Se) content using laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA‐ICP‐MS). Significant differences in otolith Se were found between the two fish species. Results from the present study suggest that a retrospective reconstruction of Se concentrations in muscle can be derived from Se concentrations in otoliths, but only in creek chub and not green sunfish, exemplifying the importance of species differences when determining partitioning of Se among specific tissues. Green sunfish otoliths from all sites contained background (<1 µg/g) or low (1‐4 µg/g) average concentrations of whole otolith Se. In contrast creek chub otoliths from the historically mined site contained much higher (≥ 5 µg/g) concentrations of Se than for the same species in the unmined site or for the green sunfish. These data suggest that body burdens of Se in fish can vary considerably over time and that both the timing of sampling and species choice could heavily influence Se assessments. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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