Ryan Fura

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2013


The invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) were first observed in the waters of Biscayne National Park in June 2009. Further sightings did not occur until May 2010, when sightings began to regularly. Under the National Park Service Lionfish Management Plan, focused removal efforts of the lionfish began in June 2010. During removal efforts and postmortem processing, basic data were collected regarding macro-habitat type, depth, total length and gut content. In an effort to meet the objectives of the lionfish management plan, as well as add to and expand on the existing lionfish data set or base, this study focused on mutli-scale abiotic and biotic associations of the lionfish on hard bottom habitats within and adjacent to the boundaries of Biscayne National Park. Based on nearly three years of removal effmis and surveys, lionfish associated most frequently with reefs deeper than 40ft. (72% of sightings), compared to inshore patch reefs (14%), crest reefs (8%) and channel reefs (6%). At a macrohabitat level, lionfish were found to associate most with the ledge/wall habitat (40%) and low relief spur and grove (21 %), followed by inshore patch reefs (14%), high relief spur and groove (8%), aggregate patch reefs (6%), and individual patch reefs (4%). Total length of adult lionfish (greater than 18cm total length) increased with distance from shore, while sub adult (less than 18cm total length) sizes did not differ significantly with distance from shore. At the microhabitat scale lionfish were most associated areas with a minimum relief of 0.5m and 20-65% live cover. Lionfish were found associating with ledges 42% of the time and general hard substrate 41% of the time. The three native fish species that were observed the most, within a lm radius sphere, when a lionfish was sighted were, Bicolor Damseltish (Stegastes partitus), Bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma antifascist), and Masked/Glass Goby (Coryphopterus personatus/hyalinus). Results from this study not only contribute to a basic understanding of lionfish associations within Biscayne National Park, but also inform the adaptive management strategy laid out but the National Park Service Lionfish Management Plan.


Department: MBF

MPS Track: TME

Location: Biscayne National Park (Homestead, FL)

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