Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Donald L. DeAngelis

Second Committee Member

Daniel J. DiResta

Third Committee Member

Craig A. Layman

Fourth Committee Member

John Albert C. Uy


As many successful invasive species display varying degrees of plasticity across spatial and temporal habitats, it is often difficult to assess the impacts of a nascent biological invasion on native flora and fauna. Using empirically supported environmental variables (e.g., temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, rugosity, and benthic substrate), we created a comprehensive habitat suitability model for invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in Biscayne Bay, Florida. The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a platform for the modeling process allowed us to quantify correlations between temporal (seasonal) fluctuations in the above variables and the spatial distribution of discrete habitat classes, whose ranges are supported by statistical deviations from optimal conditions described in prior studies. Building on this theme, we then apply the principles of bioenergetics to better understand how ambient environmental variables across newly invaded habitats impact metabolic function leading to growth and reproduction. Both of these models serve in conjunction to elucidate niche habitats and can led to better understanding of thresholds for prey availability and starvation mortality necessary to sustain individuals across environmental gradients.


lionfish; invasive species; GIS; bioenergetics