Semester of Graduation

Summer 2020

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Zooplankton are a critical link between primary producers and higher trophic levels in the marine environment. They play a critical role in carbon cycling, are an important food source for commercially important species, and are excellent indicator genera for environmental changes that take place in marine ecosystems. This research quantified temporal and spatial patterns of dead copepods in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DWH) site using ZooSCAN imaging technologies. Research showed that the proportion of dead copepods (showed evidence of decay but no physical damage due to predation) increased with depth, and at time periods closest to the time of active flow. Laboratory experiments were also conducted to extrapolate sinking velocity of copepod carcasses and observe decomposition rate of carcasses through time at various in situ temperatures. Sinking of a copepod carcass was found to be an average of 186.99 ± 64.61 meters per day. Utilizing sinking rates and the qualitative comparison of decomposition experiment images with field images, in situ organisms collected at approximately 600-800 m were likely to have been sinking for 3.75 days. These findings were critical in exploring the role copepod carcasses play in the marine environment and how the planktonic community responded to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Committee Chair

Sutor, Malinda

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