MEPS - Vol. 485 - Feature article

Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans have established a significant population in the Caribbean Sea and continue to expand their range. Image: Luiz A. Rocha

Luiz OJ, Floeter SR, Rocha LA, Ferreira CEL


Perspectives for the lionfish invasion in the South Atlantic: Are Brazilian reefs protected by the currents?


The Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans was introduced to the northwestern Atlantic approximately 15 years ago and rapidly spread through to the Greater Caribbean. Although predicted to extend its range into the southwestern Atlantic, the lionfish is not yet recorded off the coast of Brazil. Luiz and co-workers investigated patterns of fish species migration across the Amazon-Orinoco plume, a barrier to dispersal for reef organisms, and found that vagrant species migrations are more common from Brazil towards the Caribbean than the reverse, probably because of the direction of the North Brazil Current. The lionfish has a suite of traits that would eventually lead it over that barrier, but infrequent migration against the currents may slow the pace of the potential invasion, which could help eradication programs in Brazil.


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