US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Environmental Contaminants in Biota: Interpreting Tissue Concentrations, 2nd edition, ed. W. Nelson Beyer & James P. Meador (Boca Raton: CRC, 2011).


U.S. Government Work


Selenium (Se) is a metalloid trace element that birds and other wildlife need in small amounts for good health. The main purpose of this chapter is to interpret tissue concentrations of Se. However, because food is the main source of Se accumulation for birds and other wildlife, and because dietary concentrations for effects on bird reproduction have been reported, we also provide interpretive information on Se in the diet.

Se deficiencies in domestic poultry and livestock occur in some parts of the world and must be corrected by additions of Se to the diet. However, the range of dietary concentrations that provides adequate but nontoxic amounts of Se is narrow compared with the ranges for most other essential trace elements.