Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Forecasting Lionfish Sources and Sinks in the Atlantic Using Biophysical Modeling

Event Name/Location

147th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Tampa, Florida, August 20-24, 2017

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles) inhabit the entire Caribbean Sea, tropical western Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Lionfish are generalist consumers that forage on small reef organisms such as the juveniles of commercially and recreationally important fishes (e.g., snappers and groupers), likely imposing economic damages. Invasive lionfish abundance has been measured in select locations but a comprehensive assessment of their sources and sinks and potential abundance is lacking. It is also unclear if targeted lionfish controls executed in sources, sinks, or both may be the most effective way to reduce their abundance and subsequent impacts to native fisheries. Such data are important to protect sympatric, commercially valuable fishes and to help direct lionfish control. Our aims therefore were: (1) to forecast lionfish larval source and sink locations throughout their invaded range using a biophysical computer model, and (2) to estimate the vulnerability of five recreationally and commercially important snapper and grouper species – Epinephelus morio, Mycteroperca microlepis, Epinephelus flavolimbatus, Lutjanus campechanus, and Rhomboplites aurorubens – to lionfish impacts in the GoM. These data will be used going forward to parameterize computer simulations of lionfish control regimes and to contrast the effectiveness of removals in lionfish sources versus sinks.



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