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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Pacific lionfish (Pterois sp.) in a reef crevice in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, which is part of the invaded Caribbean range. Photo: Tye L Kindinger

Davis ACD


Integrating remote sensing and diver observations to predict the distribution of invasive lionfish on Bahamian coral reefs


The coral-reef ecosystem in The Bahamas has experienced severe stress including coral bleaching, overfishing, and disease. The introduction of the Pacific lionfish to the region in the early 2000s added insult to an injured system by reducing densities of many native reef fishes. Species distribution modeling can be an effective tool for managing invasive species using physical and biotic factors of the invaded system. Models predicting lionfish presence/absence, and density were created using data to mimic datasets available to management. The best-fit models combined physical variables from remotely sensed data, diver-collected microhabitat data, and biological data on densities of native groupers. Results suggest that physical habitat may be important for lionfish presence but biotic interactions influence lionfish density on reefs.


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