MEPS 401:291-294 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08373

Mangrove use by the invasive lionfish Pterois volitans

Andrew B. Barbour1,*, Meredith L. Montgomery1, Alecia A. Adamson1, Edgardo Díaz-Ferguson2, Brian R. Silliman2

1School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Program of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 7922 NW 71st Street, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32653, USA
2Department of Biology, PO Box 110600 University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA

ABSTRACT: Lionfish Pterois volitans are successful invasive predators in the sub-tropical and tropical Western Atlantic. Their invasion of coral reef ecosystems is a major conservation concern, as previous studies in the Western Atlantic have found that this top predator (1) occurs at higher densities and forages more successfully than in its native range, (2) lacks significant predators as an adult, and (3) reduces reef fish recruitment. The effects of lionfish on coral reef communities have been examined, but it is not known if these predators use critical non-reef habitat such as mangroves, which serve as nurseries for many reef fish species. To investigate lionfish usage of non-reef critical habitat, we compared population size-structure and stomach contents of P. volitans in mangroves and coral reefs on the island of San Salvador, Bahamas. In each habitat, >80% of lionfish stomachs contained prey items with similar gut content wet weight (0.98 ± 0.35 g in reef habitat and 0.99 ± 0.43 g in mangrove habitat) despite differences in total lionfish length (231.1 ± 10.30 mm in reef habitat and 176.3 ± 16.83 mm in mangrove habitat). Prey items detected by genetic analysis included individuals of the families Palaemonidae, Penaeidae, Gobidae, Scaridae, Mullidae and Grammatidae. These results demonstrate that lionfish colonize and feed in mangrove habitat in the Bahamas. Further study of lionfish outside reef habitat is required to understand the effects of this marine invasion.

KEY WORDS: Marine invasion · Nursery habitat · Recruitment · San Salvador · Stomach contents · Scorpaenidae · Genetic analysis

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Cite this article as: Barbour AB, Montgomery ML, Adamson AA, Díaz-Ferguson E, Silliman BR (2010) Mangrove use by the invasive lionfish Pterois volitans. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 401:291-294

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