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

Cameron Ainsworth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brad Seibel, Ph.D.


zooplankton, biodiversity indices, Gulf of Mexico


Zooplankton abundance and biodiversity was measured in the northeast Gulf of Mexico (NEGoM) and on the West Florida Shelf. Bongo net samples were collected between May 2005 to September 2009 through the SEAMAP program, and between July 2010 to August 2014 through the C-IMAGE program. Calanoid copepods were the most abundant zooplankton group in most of the samples collected, but ostracods, larvaceans, and chaetognaths were also abundant. Shannon and Inverse Simpson indices were calculated for all zooplankton samples and generally showed similar trends, but only Shannon indices were used for statistical analyses. In the winter and spring there were significant interannual differences (2010 – 2014) in biodiversity in the NEGoM, however this was not the case for summer. This metric may indicate that zooplankton were not appreciably impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred during spring and summer of 2010 in this region. Biodiversity indices were significantly higher off-shelf than nearshore. For nearshore NEGoM samples, the dominant plankton were the calanoid copepods, Centropages spp. and Temora spp., and ostracods. The dominant zooplankton for nearshore West Florida Shelf samples were the calanoid copepods, Centropages spp. and Temora spp., and cladocerans. In addition, nearshore biodiversity indices remained similar between seasons (winter, spring, summer), while offshore diversity indices were variable between seasons and highest in spring (May). Shannon indices also were significantly higher for nearshore samples in the NEGoM than nearshore samples over the West Florida Shelf. This study provides baseline data so that effects of future ecological perturbations on zooplankton communities can be better understood.