HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Samuel J. Purkis

Second Advisor

David W. Kerstetter

Third Advisor

Richard E. Spieler


Pterois volitans and Pterois miles, two species of lionfish from the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, have become prolific invaders of reef, hard bottom, mangrove, and sea grass habitats along the United States Atlantic coast and Caribbean. Their route and timing of introduction is poorly understood. However, historical sightings and captures have been robustly documented since their introduction. This study presents an in-depth analysis of these records based on spatial location, dates of arrival, and physical factors present at capture sights. A stage map was created showing the progression of the invasion as a series of current-driven and proximity-based recruitment periods based on the observed invasion pattern. Using a model that was developed for this study, the relationship between depth, salinity, temperature, and current was examined, finding the latter to be the most influential parameter for transport to new areas. Temperature and extreme depth are perceived as the only limiting factors in the invasion. This predictive model can be applied to other species and locations.

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