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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 448:1-5 (2012)  -  DOI:

Invasive red lionfish Pterois volitans blow directed jets of water at prey fish

Mark A. Albins1,*, Patrick J. Lyons2

1Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, 3029 Cordley Hall, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
2Department of Ecology and Evolution, SUNY at Stony Brook, 650 Life Sciences Building, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA

ABSTRACT: Field and laboratory observations of feeding by invasive Pacific red lionfish Pterois volitans were conducted during June through August of 2008, 2009 and 2010 near Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas. Observations of this invasive marine predator revealed a previously undocumented piscivorous behavior. While slowly approaching prey fish, lionfish produce jets of water directed toward their prey. These jets may confuse or distract prey, and often result in prey fish facing the attacking lionfish, increasing the probability of head-first capture and swallowing. While a variety of fishes are reported to create directed water jets, to our knowledge, this is the first report of a fish that does so during the capture of fish prey. This behavior may confer a high degree of predatory efficiency, and thus contribute to the dramatic success of this Pacific invader of tropical Western Atlantic and Caribbean coral reefs.

KEY WORDS: Lionfish · Invasive species · Predation · Piscivory · Prey naïveté · Marine fishes

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Cite this article as: Albins MA, Lyons PJ (2012) Invasive red lionfish Pterois volitans blow directed jets of water at prey fish. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 448:1-5.

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