Volume 63

Why Are Lionfishes (Pterois, Scorpaenidae) So Rare In Their Native Ranges?

Donaldson, T.J., D. Benavente, and R. Diaz
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Date: November, 2010

Pages: 352-359

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty-Third Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Juan

Country: Puerto Rico


Rarity in tropical and subtropical coral reef fishes is an important ecological and biogeographical concept that has received little attention until recently. These studies have emphasized the relative lack of information about the processes that limit the distributions or abundances of rare species. This lack of information extends even to assumptions about ecological processes acting upon life history traits that may vary significantly from what might be seen in common species. Lionfishes (genus Pterois, family Scorpaenidae) of the Indo-West Pacific region are typically uncommon or rare throughout most of their native ranges. Two species, however, Pterois volitans and P. miles, both invasive species in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, are anything but rare. Since their introduction to the western Atlantic region, both species, but especially P. volitans, have exploded in terms of patterns of distribution, colonization rates, and abundance. Shifts in the behavior of these lionfishes are apparent, as well, and the success of these invasive species is causing major negative impacts already. How and why these species have become successful within the western Atlantic is the subject of considerable research. The how and why of their rarity within their native ranges has drawn less attention. In this paper, we present the preliminary results of various surveys conducted within the western and central Pacific over the last thirty years in an attempt to understand patterns of lionfish (P. volitans, P. antennata, and P. radiata) abundance, distribu-tion, habitat association and behavior.

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