Authors

Jordan Bridges

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Abstract

The invasive lionfish Pterois volitans/miles is well established throughout the Caribbean Sea and Western Atlantic Ocean. Lionfish have negative effects on coral reefs by predating on important herbivores which graze on algae. The absence of herbivores allows macroalgae to overgrow reef structures, which kills many substrates. Efficient management is essential to preserving the coral reefs that are left. Currently, most management efforts include spearfishing for adult lionfish. Lionfish reproduction has been well-studied, but behavior during reproduction is lacking for these species. Interrupting their efficient reproduction may help manage the lionfish population. Therefore, understanding some reproductive behaviors may lead to new strategies. This study examined the role of gender in observed habitat association and behavior upon encounter. We found no evidence that gender played any role in habitat observations or swimming behavior. In fact, the majority of lionfish, regardless of gender, were stationary on or underneath ledges or overhangs made of hard substrate. However, groups of lionfish were found in two main areas of the park, and females tended to outnumber males in those groups. Groups of 5 or more lionfish tended to consist mostly of gravid females and may be a factor in congregating during a courting or spawning behavior. Although eradication is impossible, identifying likely spawning locations could help to optimize management efforts in the future.

Comments

Division: MBE

MPS Track: TME

Location: National Park Service

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