The sensitivity of the invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans, to parasitism in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Invasive species have a history of damaging their invaded ecosystems and in the case of the Pterois volitans invasion to the waters of many Caribbean Island nations, there has been no exception. Pterois volitans has caused negative impacts to the coal reef ecosystems such as reduced juvenile coral reef fish recruitment and, consequently damage to the associated fisheries. Management strategies of multiple nations are currently centered upon the reduction of populations via hunting. This strategy requires substantial effort and thus long term management solutions may include biotic controls. Parasitism is an important facet of population dynamics and could be important to the population dynamics for Pterois volitans around Bonaire. Pterois volitans is rarely a victim of parasitism in its native range and has similarly low rates of parasitism reported in its invasive range. The prevalence or lack of parasitic interactions between Pterois volitans and native parasites could be important in planning management strategies and controlling populations in the future. This study examined 200 Pterois volitans captured in the coastal waters of Bonaire for parasites in the mouth and gill structure, as well as over the entirety of the skin, to investigate possible interactions occurring between local parasites and Pterois volitans. Only one of the 200 investigated specimens was found to have an isopod attached to its gill structure.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science IX (Spring 2011)19: 44-49 from CIEE Bonaire.

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