[Coral-List] Lionfish in the news

Bruno, John jbruno at unc.edu
Sun Feb 2 08:15:09 EST 2014

Dear Alina,

Hol Chan (Belize) is one of the 70 sites we surveyed to test this hypothesis (fewer lionfish at sites w predators).  The fish and predator biomass at Hol Chan isn't especially high.  It is slightly higher than other reefs in Belize but is still far from what we'd like to see.

And no, lionfish density or biomass is not related to predator presence, abundance, etc.  The best predictor of lionfish success (or absence) is local protection status due to culling efforts, generally focused on protected areas.



IMO we've got to move beyond wishful thinking and become comfortable rejecting seemingly good ideas when science indicates they just don't work.   Conversely, careful science like Green et al. (2014) testing the effectiveness of policy can help us move forward and expand local projects that are making a measurable difference.

John F Bruno, PhD
Department of Biology
UNC Chapel Hill


Has anyone counted lionfish densities in places such as Hol Chan (MPA with daily patrols to protect against poachers) that have fairly large numbers of groupers, snappers and other larger piscivores?  I still wonder whether the lionfish would have been able to invade the Caribbean the way they have if Caribbean reefs had had natural abundances and size structures of these predators.

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409 USA
tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913

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