Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

David Kerstetter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Paul Arena, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jeffery Hoch, Ph.D.


Lionfish, Predation Efficiency, Habitat Complexity, Mangrove, Lane Snapper


The invasion of the Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois sp.) into the Atlantic and Caribbean has received attention around the globe. Venomous spines, over-sized fanlike pectoral fins, slow movement, and novel feeding strategies have allowed lionfish to become effective apex- predators. Recent research has determined that lionfish use inshore mangrove habitats as foraging grounds, which are also used as nursery habitats for juvenile fish, thus reducing recruitment of native fish populations. The purpose of this study was three-fold: (1) determine the predation efficiency of lionfish in differing mangrove habitat complexities, (2) examine the influence of temperature and behavior of prey commonly found in mangroves, including Mosquitofish (Gambusia sp.), mummichog (Fundulus sp.), and grass shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) on lionfish predation efficiency, (3) compare the predation efficiency of lionfish to a native predator – lane snapper Lutjanus synagris – under the same parameters. We found that complexity level, complexity type, temperature, and prey significantly affects lionfish predation efficiency. However, the size of the predator, predator maneuverability within the habitat, and the amount of cover provided for prey to hide behind does not significantly affect lionfish predation efficiency. In comparison to the native lane snapper, we found that temperature, predator size and overall habitat complexity significantly affects lane snapper predation efficiency whereas complexity level and type have no significant affect.