Life history, genetics, range expansion and new frontiers of the lionfish (Pterois volitans, Perciformes: Pteroidae) in Latin America

Regional Studies in Marine Science
By:  and 



Pterois volitans (lionfish) is a midsize predatory fish commonly found in waters of the western Pacific and Indian Ocean. The species was first documented in Dania Beach, Florida (northwestern Caribbean) in 1985. Since that time the species has expanded its range rapidly to the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Since its introduction P. volitans has changed community structure and biodiversity of Caribbean reef communities and other coastal tropical ecosystems. Continuous introductions (accidental or intentional), limited natural predators, naïve-range prey behavior, high predation rates on competitors, continuous reproduction, and an extended period of larval dispersal have been the keys for successful invasion and rapid range extension of P. volitans. This invasion has become so severe that it has been recognized as one of the world’s top conservation issues. Here, we review the life history, behavior, and historical and contemporary genetic patterns that facilitate expansion and the colonization process. A greater understanding of lionfish biology, ecology, and the changes related to its present condition as a super-invader could improve current and future management strategies and new detection and response methodologies. We also examine new invasion frontiers that this species has the potential to colonize such as the eastern Pacific. This information will provide managers, the scientific community, and the civil society better tools for eradication, control and management of future invasions of this and other invasive species.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Life history, genetics, range expansion and new frontiers of the lionfish (Pterois volitans, Perciformes: Pteroidae) in Latin America
Series title Regional Studies in Marine Science
DOI 10.1016/j.rsma.2019.100793
Volume 31
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 100793, 8 p.
Country Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominian Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Croix, Turks and Caicos, Venezuela,
Other Geospatial Caribbean Sea, Latin America
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