First Advisor

Ghedotti, Michael


Regis College

Degree Name



Regis College Senior Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

123 pages


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)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

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