Invasive lionfish in the Caribbean and western Atlantic are adversely impacting coastal ecosystems through negative effects on reef fish abundance and diversity. Complete eradication is unlikely; however, maintaining control of lionfish populations at targeted sites can reduce negative effects in those selected areas. Also, some sites regularly support a higher density of lionfish and focusing removal efforts on these preferred sites could increase efficacy and the cost-benefit of removal efforts. This study determined the optimal time frame for repeated lionfish removal effects at sites in Biscayne National Park that regularly exhibit high lionfish abundance, which will improve the efficiency of lionfish management efforts. Lionfish were completely removed from the following study sites: Shrimpboat (SB), Boca Chita South (BCS), Boca Chita North (BCN), Stiltsville Miami Springs Power Boat House (MS), and Stiltsville-Ellenburg House (EB), which were then surveyed for the presence of Iionfish (i.e. colonization post-removal) weekly for 12 weeks; this process was repeated twice. Linear regression equations were used to determine the number of weeks post-removal needed in order to observe three or more newly colonized lionfish at each site. BCN should be revisited every three weeks to conduct removals; SB, BCS, and EB should be revisited every six to eight weeks; and MS every 12 weeks in the summer. In the winter, BCS and BCN should be revisited every five to eight weeks to remove lionfish, and SB, MS, and EB should be visited every 12 weeks. If MS and EB are considered as a single site (i.e. Stiltsville), removal efforts should be conducted every ten weeks in both seasons. There was no difference in lionfish colonization rate between MS and EB, likely because the sites are very similar in site characterizations. The colonization rate of lionfish at BCN and BCS was significantly greater than the rate at Stiltsville, because the wrecks support higher densities of lionfish.
Vilmar, Christina, "Lionfish colonization rate at preferred sites following removal" (2013). Internship Reports (Restricted). 196.
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