HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Tamara M. Frank

Second Advisor

Tracey T. Sutton

Third Advisor

Patricia L. Blackwelder


This thesis presents: 1) the first statistically rigorous support for the longstanding hypothesis that state of satiation modifies diel vertical migration patterns of deep-sea micronektonic crustaceans and fishes; and, 2) the first assessment of microplastic ingestion by deep-pelagic micronekton in the Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Florida. Deep-sea pelagic crustaceans and fishes significantly contribute to abundance and biomass of pelagic ecosystems, are frequently consumed by commercially valuable fishery species, and serve to transport both nutrients and pollutants between shallow and deep waters. The results presented herein will be valuable for assessing risk associated with potential biomagnification of plastic through consumption or indirect consumption of deep-sea biota. Moreover, these data demonstrate that the extent of feeding at depth by non-migratory taxa as well as non-migrating individuals of migratory taxa is substantial. Feeding at depth is usually excluded from biogeochemical models, and these data demonstrate that this is an important factor that must be included to obtain more precise estimates of active nutrient flux by micronekton.