Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Kendra L. Daly, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark E. Luther, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gary L. Hitchcock, Ph.D.


DVM, harmful algae, West Florida Shelf, experimental column


Diel vertical migration (DVM) can offer motile phytoplankton a competitive advantage over other phytoplankton species. DVM has been well documented in the harmful dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis; however, the extent to which changes in nutrient regimes and density stratification modify migration patterns has not been thoroughly investigated. A 2 m experimental column was constructed with sensors and sampling ports at four depths to obtain fluorescence and temperature measurements and discrete water samples. The environmental parameters of the experimental column represented temperature and nutrient conditions found on the West Florida Shelf (WFS), where Karenia blooms frequently occur. Results demonstrated a clear DVM pattern for K. brevis where surface aggregations occurred during light periods, and bottom aggregations occurred in dark periods. However, the rate and intensity of migration varied between experimental conditions. Injections of nutrient replete water at the surface and bottom did not appear to modify migratory behavior, in that a portion of the population resided at depth regardless of light or dark periods. Weak density stratification caused a delay in downward migration in dark periods, whereas strong density stratification caused a complete cessation of downward migration. In a weakly stratified environment with a bottom injected replete water mass, DVM patterns most closely replicate the pattern under weakly stratified conditions alone. Modifications in the natural DVM pattern of K. brevis with respect to varying environmental and nutrient conditions that occur on the WFS can have major implications current forecast model predictions, and for monitoring and mitigation strategies.