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Assessment of Lionfish Ecological Impacts

The Issue

Lionfish are capable of permanently impacting native reef fish communities across multiple trophic levels. Energetics modeling and field observations suggest that lionfish are already consuming the majority of forage fish biomass available on some reefs, thus they are crowding out native reef fishes through competitive exclusion.

Lionfish occupy the same trophic position as some economically important species (e.g., snapper and grouper) and may hamper stock rebuilding efforts and coral reef conservation measures. Assessment of these impacts across wide geographic scale and multiple years is needed to quantify the ecological impacts of lionfish. These efforts are critical for coupling lionfish impacts to lionfish densities and evaluation of control and management strategies for lionfish.

Research Focus

  • Conduct lionfish ecological impact assessments in U.S. waters throughout the Southeast U.S., Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean.
  • Develop partnerships with Caribbean countries and initiate impact assessments throughout the Caribbean.
  • Develop standardized methods for lionfish ecological impacts assessments across various habitat types.

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