Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Andrew J. Pershing

Second Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Runge

Third Committee Member

Mary Jane Perry


Biodiversity has become a central theme within ecology, environmental policy, and conservation advocacy. Despite its prominence in these realms, the study of biodiversity in marine environments, especially within the plankton, is still in its early stages. Many of the first-principle assumptions underlying the major theories of biodiversity have their roots in terrestrial systems, making their application in marine systems difficult and often tenuous. Pelagic copepods, as the most abundant metazoans, form an important test case for marine biodiversity. The central question to this dissertation is the following: What are the patterns of pelagic copepod biodiversity, and how much of these patterns can we explain using our mechanistic understanding of copepod ecology? To address the first part of the question, I test two major theories of biodiversity on pelagic copepod data sets: the energy-richness hypothesis, and the mid-domain effect. I then use a mechanistic model of a generic copepod taxon to test, analytically and computationally, the structure and diversity of assembled communities.