Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



Diel vertical migration of zooplankton is the daily cycle of movement towards and away from the surfaceof a lake that results from the need to avoid predation and forage for food.The process of diel vertical migration is one of the main forces creating the spatial and temporal structure of aquatic food webs, often acting as the biological pump that moves carbon around an aquatic environment(Brierley 2014).In Daphnia, a genus of crustacean zooplankton, this behavior is triggered in response to both lightintensity and chemical signaling by predators. As a result, diel vertical migration changes in intensity in response to fish populations and conditions in the lake that affect light penetration. Until this point, predicting a vertical distribution of Daphnia within a given lake has been difficult given the cumbersome natureand unintuitive results of the mathematics involved. Fortunately, with today’s computing power,reasonable estimates as to how Daphnia are vertically distributed within a given lake can be calculated based on conditions monitored by wildlife agenciesfor existing purposessuch as fisheries management. We have developed a package forthe programming languageR that can generatean estimatedvertical distribution of Daphnia pulex in a lake based on known temperature gradients, light level and penetration, food availability, and predator abundance. This knowledge can be useful for predicting the vertical position of Daphnia populations in a lake of interest for management purposes but also for making predictions about how Daphnia populations will respond to changing environments with conditions that do not yet exist but likely willin the future.

Level of Honors

magna cum laude




Bart De Stasio

McAfee supplementary material - model source code.pdf (296 kB)
Daphnia DVM Model Source Code

Included in

Biology Commons