Species analysis of copepod nauplii in Florida Bay using molecular techniques

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Marine Biology and Fisheries

First Committee Member

Jack Fell - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Peter Ortner - Committee Member


Copepod nauplii and their ecological roles within their respective communities are frequently overlooked because they are undersampled and difficult to identify. Morphological characters are often insufficient to differentiate between genera much less species. A rapid molecular identification assay was developed to differentiate species of copepod nauplii based on hybridization to species-specific oligonucleotide probes. The assay was successfully used to describe the species composition and abundance of the naupliar assemblage at four stations in Florida Bay through bi-monthly sampling over the course of one year (September 2001 to July 2002). Regional and seasonal variations in species composition and abundance of the naupliar assemblage were investigated with respect to the responses of different species to changes in environmental conditions. Differences between the species composition of the naupliar assemblage and the species composition of the adult copepod assemblage were detected. The naupliar assemblage was found to be higher in species richness, with many of the species only recognized by a DNA sequence (unnamed species). Phylogenetic analysis was performed in an effort to identify the unnamed species, many of which are likely to be benthic or parasitic as adults and therefore, were not found in the adult planktonic assemblage. This study presents evidence that all developmental stages should be included in copepod community analyses to provide a comprehensive understanding of the contribution of the community to the overall ecosystem.


Biology, Molecular; Biology, Ecology; Biology, Oceanography

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Link to Full Text