MEPS 472:249-256 (2013) - doi:10.3354/meps09992
Diet richness of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish revealed by DNA barcoding
Isabelle M. Côté1,2,*, Stephanie J. Green1, James A. Morris Jr.3, John L. Akins4, Dirk Steinke5
ABSTRACT: Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois spp. have recently invaded marine habitats throughout the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Their unusual hunting behaviour suggests that they could prey on most fish species within their gape size limits. However, few prey species have been identified so far due to the challenges of identifying partly digested prey. Moreover, it is not clear how well the identifiable diet reflects the unidentified portion. To address these issues, we DNA-barcoded unidentifiable fish items from the stomachs of 130 lionfish captured on Bahamian coral reefs. We identified 37 fish prey species, nearly half of which had not previously been recorded in this region. The total richness of lionfish prey fish recorded so far may represent up to ~54% of potential prey species on the study reefs. The relative importance of prey species in the visually identifiable diet portion, which was limited to 25% of prey items, differed from that in the ‘unidentifiable’ portion, which was largely resolved here with barcoding, weakening extrapolations from visual identification. The high diet resolution afforded by barcoding can increase our ability to predict the impacts of invasive predators on recipient communities.
KEY WORDS: Barcoding · Diet composition · Lionfish · Invasion biology · Predator−prey interactions · Stomach content analysis
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Cite this article as: Côté IM, Green SJ, Morris JA Jr, Akins JL, Steinke D (2013) Diet richness of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish revealed by DNA barcoding. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 472:249-256