First Advisor

Ghedotti, Michael

College

Regis College

Degree Name

BS

School

Regis College Senior Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

123 pages

Abstract

The ichthyofauna of the Gulf of Mexico has been fairly well documented as a consequence of the extensive fishery activities and hydrocarbon exploration in these waters. However, the diversity and distribution of the deep-sea species remain poorly understood. This study examines the vertical distribution of fish species in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the changes in taxonomic diversity with depth. Species richness was found to decrease exponentially with depth while maximum depths species occupy closely correlates with traditional oceanic zone boundaries. The clade Percomorpha was found to account for the majority of the taxonomic diversity in the Epipelagic, below which the species richness of this clade decreases, as other taxonomic groups account for proportionally more of the diversity in the deep-sea. Conservation threats posed to deep-sea species also were investigated by examining the vertical and geographic distribution of benthic and demersal Rajiformes (skates) and Squaliformes (dogfishes) in the Gulf of Mexico. Using geographical coordinates of specimen capture and ArcGIS mapping, ranges of 33 Chondrichthyan species were examined and used to determine potential threats associated with oil and gas drilling. The results demonstrate the need for a better understanding of the biology of deep-sea species in order to accurately assess threats posed to poorly known deep-sea inhabitants.

Date of Award

Spring 2013

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado

Rights Statement

All content in this Collection is owned by and subject to the exclusive control of Regis University and the authors of the materials. It is available only for research purposes and may not be used in violation of copyright laws or for unlawful purposes. The materials may not be downloaded in whole or in part without permission of the copyright holder or as otherwise authorized in the “fair use” standards of the U.S. copyright laws and regulations.

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