Project

Lionfish Invasion US Virgin Islands 2008 - present

Goal: Investigations of potential ecological & economic impacts of lionfish.

Updates
0 new
0
Recommendations
0 new
0
Followers
0 new
14
Reads
0 new
49

Project log

Kynoch Reale-Munroe
added a project goal
Investigations of potential ecological & economic impacts of lionfish.
 
Kynoch Reale-Munroe
added a research item
Invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) have rapidly expanded in the Western Atlantic over the past decade and have had a significant negative impact on reef fish biodiversity, habitat, and community structure, with lionfish out-competing native predators for resources. In an effort to reduce this population explosion, lionfish have been promoted for human consumption in the greater Caribbean region. This study examined whether the geographical expansion of the lionfish into a known ciguatera-endemic region can pose a human health threat for ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). More than 180 lionfish were collected from waters surrounding the US Virgin Islands throughout 2010 and 2011. Ciguatoxin testing included an in vitro neuroblastoma cytotoxicity assay for composite toxicity assessment of sodium-channel toxins combined with confirmatory liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. A 12% prevalence rate of ciguatoxic lionfish exceeding the FDA guidance level of 0.1 µg/kg C-CTX-1 equivalents was identified in fish from the U.S. Virgin Islands, highlighting a potential consumption risk in this region. This study presents the first evidence that the invasive lionfish, pose a direct human health risk for CFP and highlights the need for awareness and research on this food safety hazard in known endemic areas.
Kynoch Reale-Munroe
added a research item
Numerous location-based diet studies have been published describing different aspects of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles) feeding ecology, but there has been no synthesis of their diet composition and feeding patterns across regional gradients. 8125 lionfish stomachs collected from 10 locations were analyzed to provide a generalized description of their feeding ecology at a regional scale and to compare their diet among locations. Our regional data indicate lionfish in the western Atlantic are opportunistic generalist carnivores that consume at least 167 vertebrate and invertebrate prey species across multiple trophic guilds, and carnivorous fish and shrimp prey that are not managed fishery species and not considered at risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature disproportionately dominate their diet. Correlations between lionfish size and their diet composition indicate lionfish in the western Atlantic transition from a shrimp-dominated diet to a fish-dominated diet through ontogeny. Lionfish total length (TL) (mm) was found to predict mean prey mass per stomach (g) by the following equation mean prey mass =0.0002*TL1.6391, which can be used to estimate prey biomass consumption from lionfish length-frequency data. Our locational comparisons indicate lionfish diet varies considerably among locations, even at the group (e.g., crab) and trophic guild levels. The Modified Index of Relative Importance developed specifically for this study, calculated as the frequency of prey a × the number of prey a, can be used in other diet studies to assess prey importance when prey mass data are not available. Researchers and managers can use the diet data presented in this study to make inference about lionfish feeding ecology in areas where their diet has yet to be described. These data can be used to guide research and monitoring efforts, and can be used in modeling exercises to simulate the potential effects of lionfish on marine food webs. Given the large variability in lionfish diet composition among locations, this study highlights the importance of continued location-based diet assessments to better inform local management activities.