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Population Monitoring

The Issue

Recent estimates of lionfish abundance indicate that lionfish have surpassed some native species with the highest estimates reporting over 1,000 lionfish per acre in some locations. To date, only two estimates of lionfish densities exists, a multi-year assessment off North Carolina and a single year observation in the Bahamas. Annual assessments of lionfish densities off North Carolina suggest that the lionfish population is continuing to increase. Annual assessments of lionfish densities are needed to:

  1. determine the relative abundance of lionfish,
  2. determine when lionfish densities reach their maximum (e.g., the peak of the invasion), and
  3. to determine when lionfish population(s) reach equilibrium in their invaded range.

These objectives are crucial for determining the long-term ecological impact of lionfish and if control and management efforts are being effective.

Research Focus

  • Monitoring of lionfish densities in U.S. waters throughout the Southeast U.S., Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean to evaluate control strategies.
  • Continued development of lionfish tracking and alerting systems.
  • Development of partnerships with Caribbean countries for lionfish monitoring.

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