Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Although zooplankton carcasses can be quite prevalent within aquatic systems, they have largely been overlooked in most zooplankton population studies. Anthropogenic stressors can potentially increase the overall abundance of carcasses on a local scale. Once a carcass is present within a system, the fate of its biomass is of considerable interest as it may be remineralized within the water column or transported to depth. Through the collection of field samples I assessed the possibility of an anthropogenic stressor (boat-generated turbulence) as a potential source of nonconsumptive mortality. I also conducted a series of laboratory experiments to monitor the decomposition of representative crustacean and non-crustacean zooplankton carcasses and determined the fate of carcass-derived organic matter. Higher carcass abundances were found within boat wakes than outside boat wakes, indicating that boat-generated turbulence could have induced non-consumptive mortality of zooplankton. Copepod carcasses decomposed at a much faster rate than rotifer carcasses, suggesting that crustacean zooplankton carcasses would likely be decomposed within the water column and support bacterial production while non-crustacean zooplankton could serve as a transport mechanism of high quality POM to depth.



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