Invasive Lionfish Drive Atlantic Coral Reef Fish Declines

Green SJ, Akins JL, Maljković A, Côté IM. 2012. Invasive Lionfish Drive Atlantic Coral Reef Fish Declines.

PLoS ONE. 7(3): e32596. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032596

There is growing concern that lionfish will affect the structure and function of invaded marine ecosystems. Lead author, Stephanie Green, from Simon Fraser University (SFU), along with REEF Director of Special Projects, Lad Akins and other co-authors Aleks Maljković (SFU), and Isabelle Côté (SFU), documented a dramatic 65% decline in 42 species of reef fish eaten by lionfish over a two year period. The study, conducted off New Providence Island in the Bahamas, used data collected during REEF's volunteer lionfish projects to track the explosion of the lionfish population over time, and revealed that lionfish biomass increased from 23% to nearly 40% of the predator biomass on the study sites between 2008 and 2010. This study represents the first documented direct impact of lionfish predation on native reef fishes and highlights the importance of control programs to minimize impacts.

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