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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 433:159-167 (2011)  -  DOI:

Foraging behaviour and prey consumption in the Indo-Pacific lionfish on Bahamian coral reefs

Stephanie J. Green1,*, John L. Akins2, Isabelle M. Côté1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada
2Reef Environmental Education Foundation, 98300 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida 33037, USA

ABSTRACT: Predicting and mitigating the effects of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans on Caribbean fish communities requires a thorough understanding of the species’ predation behaviour in the invaded range, including the types and amounts of prey consumed and how foraging patterns vary in relation to extrinsic conditions. We studied the activity levels and prey consumption rates of lionfish on 12 shallow coral reefs in the Bahamas in relation to time of day and prey availability. Lionfish predation rates and activity levels were significantly higher during crepuscular (dawn and dusk) periods than at mid-day. Available prey fish biomass was highest at dawn but lower at mid-day and dusk, suggesting that lionfish predation activity is not limited by prey availability alone. Our calculated average daily mass-specific prey consumption rates, which incorporated daily variation, was ~3 times the estimates obtained from studies of captive lionfish in their native range and of invasive lionfish observed only during the day. Our results will help to predict more accurately the effect of predation by invasive lionfish on native reef fish communities.

KEY WORDS: Pterois volitans · Marine invasion · Predation rates · Daily pattern · Behavioural observations

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Cite this article as: Green SJ, Akins JL, Côté IM (2011) Foraging behaviour and prey consumption in the Indo-Pacific lionfish on Bahamian coral reefs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 433:159-167.

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