A comparative study of the feeding ecology of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the Caribbean

Invasive species are often a detriment to the environment due to the lack of parasites, disease and natural predators in the invaded environment, which allows the population to explode. Pterois volitans were introduced into the eastern part of the Atlantic in 1980’s, and migrated to the southern Caribbean and in October 2009, lionfish were first documented on the island of Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. The purpose of this study was to document the feeding ecology of lionfish by identifying and quantifying stomach contents of different size classes of lionfish found on the island using four different metrics- frequency of occurrence, percent by volume, percent by number and Index of Relative Importance (IRI). Of the 70 lionfish stomachs analyzed, there was a positive correlation between lionfish size and amount of fish consumed. Similarly, there was a negative trend seen with size class and the amount of shrimp found in the stomach contents. When IRI was used to compare feeding ecology of Bonaire lionfish to a Bahamas study, the top five ranked families of preyed differed. This study identifies major dietary trends of lionfish on Bonaire, and can be used to better understand the feeding ecology and diet habits.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science IX (Spring 2011)19: 38-43 from CIEE Bonaire.

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