Estimating the Potential Effects of an Invading Species, Lionfish (Pterois volitans), in Biscayne Bay through a Size-Structured Model

Monday, August 18, 2014: 4:40 PM
205C (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Nicholas Bernal , Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Donald DeAngelis , Biology Department, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
The lionfish (P. volitans) is a recent invader of benthic habitats in Biscayne Bay. Prior studies suggest the lionfish consumes a wide range of prey items.  This generalist diet may have significant overlap with that of native fishes, such as those from the Snapper-Grouper complex, occupying a similar niche.  Therefore it is important to estimate the potential impact of this invader on the native community.  Lionfish can tolerate a wide breadth of environmental conditions, but quantification in terms of its long term fitness across this range of conditions has yet to be determined. We address the question of whether lionfish are likely to survive and flourish in Biscayne Bay.  We apply a bioenergetics model to better understand how ambient environmental variables across newly invaded habitats impact metabolic function leading to growth and reproduction.  This model incorporates estimates of effects of stress from low salinity, which is highly variable in Biscayne Bay and acts as a limiting environmental stressor for native species. Studies of environmental scenarios on individual lionfish are helping us refine our understanding of thresholds of prey availability and environmental conditions necessary to sustain individuals across environmental gradients.