SW13: Review of the 3 Lionfish Papers

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Shane Stone on 09-12-2010 and tagged , ,

Review Panel: Brandon Braxton, Andrew Van Orden, Shane Stone,Katherine Ferguson

Rand proposes to study the potential toxicity of lionfish meat to humans. His view is that since no viable control options have been found, it is best to embrace the potential of lionfish as a food source and the possibility of taking enough to slow population growth. Because of the risk of toxic chemicals such as PCBs accumulating in the fat of the lionfish, the study proposes to collect samples of fish from several areas and test for the presence of these chemicals to determine if lionfish is safe for consumption according to FDA standards.

Reinsvold proposes to study the potential of grouper predation to control the lionfish population in the Caribbean. If this is successful, it will open the possibility of augmentative biocontrol for the lionfish. The study will take place in several microcosm environments within a lab that manipulate the presence of groupers, lionfish, and native species. The results of the study are expected to provide a further direction for study in regards to lionfish control, either towards augmentative biocontrol or in a new direction.

Blaser also proposes to study the potential of augmentative biocontrol using groupers. The study will include observation of the natural dynamics of lionfish and grouper populations on a reef and also manipulate the proportion of lionfish and grouper on a separate reef. He expects to be able to provide insight on the potential of augmentative biocontrol for controlling the lionfish.

From studies lionfish, it was been concluded that the lionfish population is not going to be decreasing anytime soon. Therefore, a proposal that suggests methods to try and reduce the population is important. Our panel recommends that a full proposal be solicited from Reinsvold to study the potential of grouper predation on lionfish. This study seems to be the most worthwhile option for combating the lionfish and is also well structured. While Blaser proposes to study the same option of augmentative biocontrol, is not as simple and has potential for error since it is taking place on an actual coral reef where it would be nearly impossible to control the amount of fish in the area. Our panel also feels that augmentative biocontrol has a greater chance of success to control the lionfish than commercial fishing and consumption if the fish in Rand’s study prove to be safe to eat.  Furthermore, Reinsvold’s suggestion to utilize augmentative biocontrol makes his study more favorable to fund. Through augmentative biocontrol, a native species is increased rather than introducing a new species into an already invaded ecosystem.

Unfortunately, we would not accept the study as it is now because it is in need of improvement. In terms of the prose, Reinsvold’s need to emphasize the beauty of the reefs is not really necessary plus most scientists want to preserve reef ecosystems not because of aesthetic beauty, but because of its scientific usefulness. Also, the question could be worded clearer. It is concise and to the point, but adding a little to it could improve the clarity of the paper as a whole. In addition, an explanation of why this method of eliminating the lionfish is plausible would be better in persuading readers to give funds to the effort. Lastly, we are not convinced that if the biocontrol was unsuccessful simply increasing fishing permits could have a serious impact on reversing the introduction of the groupers. For the actual study, we suggest a change of the methods. We suggest two additional treatments. One treatment will have Tiger groupers, lionfish, and native fish, and one that will have Nassau groupers, lionfish, and native fish. This way, he will be able to compare feeding rates when the biocontrol agents have a choice in feeding. The first four treatments do not reflect actual scenarios, but do provide important data. The two suggested treatments, in addition to current “Treatment 4”, reflect real life. These changes would improve Reinsvold’s proposal and improve his chances of receiving funding.

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