Mitochondrial control region sequence analyses indicate dispersal from the US East Coast as source of invasive Indo-Pac Lionfish

Freshwater, D.W., A. Hines, S. Parham, A. Wilbur, M. Sabaoun, J. Woodhead, L. Akins, B. Purdy, P.E. Whitfield, and C.B. Paris. 2009. Mitochondrial control region sequence analyses indicate dispersal from the US East Coast as source of invasive Indo-Pac Lionfish.

Marine Biology. 28 February 2009

This paper examined the genetic source of the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish in the Bahamas. Many of the samples used in this study were collected during REEF's lionfish research trips during 2007 and 2008. Two species, Pterois volitans and P. miles, were well established along the United States east coast before the first lionfish were reported from the Bahamas in 2004, where they quickly dispersed throughout the archipelago by 2007. The source of the Bahamian lionfish invasion has been in question because of the hypothesized low connectivity between Florida and Bahamas reef species as well as the temporal lag in their arrival in the Bahamas. The results showed no significant differentiation between the Bahamas and North Carolina specimens. Sequence analyses also revealed the presence of only Pterois volitans in the Bahamas, with no P. miles detected in any of the specimens. These results indicate that the source of the Bahamian lionfish is egg and larval dispersal from the United States east coast population, and support previous models of reef fish dispersal that suggest a low level of connectivity between the Bahamas and east coast of Florida.

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