March 25, 2010
Increasing concern over the invasive threat of the red lionfish (Pterois volitans) has become ever present. The species has been observed to have spread ubiquitously throughout the Bahamas and along the east coast of North America. They disrupt coral reef by reducing indigenous Bahamian fish recruitment by over 79%. And because of the lionfish’s poisonous fins, there have been concern about whether its growth can be contained.
Maljkovic and Leeuwen (2008) of Simon Fraser University however reported anecdotal incidences of finding native Bahamian groupers (tiger grouper, Mycteroperca tigris and five other Nassau groupers) with partially digested red lionfish in their stomaches. This provides hope that there is a potential native biocontrol for the invasion of lionfish, and that the species will be safely integrated into Bahamian ecology without significant damage to the current ecological structure. However, the anecdotal evidence in this paper still needs to be empirically confirmed.
Coral Reefs (2008) 27:501 DOI 10.1007/s00338-008-0372-9
March 24, 2010
Given the wide distribution of the Red lionfish (Pterois volitans) along the US Atlantic coast, it is unsurprising that the diet of these fish should vary with location. Different places offer different kinds of crustaceans and fishes.
Morris and Akins (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) did their study in the Bahamas. During every month of a year, they routinely captured and dissected Red lionfish in order to determine stomach contents. What they found was that teleosts (fish) comprised most of the Red lionfish diet (78% volume). Crustaceans made up the majority of the remainder (14%). It was noted that larger lionfish preyed almost entirely on teleosts. These feeding habits will provide useful insight for trying to control the spread of this invader.
Environmental Biology of Fishes Volume 86: 389-398 (2009).
February 7, 2010
Mar Ecol Prog Ser doi: 10.3354/meps07620
Invasive species often oust indigenous species from their native locations. Experiments on the movement of the Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) and the recruitment of native fishes suggest that the lionfish is already having substantial negative effect on the coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mark Albins and Mark Hixon of Oregon State University used concrete constructed artificial reefs to study the difference of native fish recruitment between reefs that the authors transplanted a single lionfish, from control reefs where there was no lionfish transplantation. The results were that there was a significant decrease (average 79%) in native fish population at reefs with the lionfish from reefs that did not. According to the authors, stomach content analysis showed that the reduction in recruitment was definitely the result of lionfish predation on native species and that strategic control of lionfish need to be implemented quickly.