Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Jason D. Stockwell


Mass animal migrations represent large movements of biomass, energy, and nutrients with predictable patterns and important ecosystem-level consequences. Diel vertical migration (DVM) in aquatic systems, the daily movement of organisms from deeper depths during the day to shallower depths in the water column at night, is widespread in freshwater and marine systems. Recent studies, however, suggest partial migration behavior, whereby only some portion of a population migrates, is the rule rather than the exception in a range of migratory fauna, including those that undergo DVM. Hypotheses to explain why partial migrations occur complicate traditional views on DVM and challenge conventional theories. I address intraspecific variation in DVM behavior of an aquatic omnivore, Mysis diluviana, to test several long-standing assumptions about benthic-pelagic DVM in Mysis. I evaluated the extent of partial DVM and several potential drivers within a Lake Champlain Mysis population. I used traditional net-based field observations, a novel deep-water video camera system, and a laboratory experiment, to compare distributions, demographics, abundance estimates, hunger-satiation state, and feeding behavior, of migrant and non-migrant Mysis across multiple seasons, habitats, and different times of the day. Findings from my dissertation suggest Mysis partial DVM is common, and is associated with body size and demographic differences among individuals. Partial DVM behavior, however, did not correspond to strong differences in feeding preference or hunger-satiation state of individuals. My results contribute toward a more comprehensive understanding of migration theory and mysid biology, by including the often overlooked, but important, benthic habitat component of DVM studies, and fills in several ecological knowledge gaps regarding a key omnivore in many deep lake food webs across North America where Mysis serve as both predators and prey to many organisms.



Number of Pages

203 p.