[Coral-List] Lionfish in the news

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Mon Feb 3 10:29:11 EST 2014

   I claim no expertise, only interest and concern, but from all that I can
   gather there is still a lot about the dynamics of the lionfish invasion that
   has yet to be settled. All of the studies I've read warrant both careful
   consideration and scrutiny. The science brought to light in Green et al
   (2014)  deserves  respectful  analysis  as do  the findings of several
   other efforts including those of  Mumby et al (2011), Hackerott et al (2013)
   and  Barbour  et  al  (2011).  Even  if natural predation proves to be
   delusive, one study points out that "targeting lionfish in mangrove habitat
   would focus removals on the important juvenile stage, while also reducing
   predation stress on natives using the habitat as a nursery". So it may be
   prudent to tread carefully before committing resources and focus on removal
   programs that could ultimately prove to be less effective. Beyond that, it
   seems transparent as  to why my particular industry (scuba diving) has
   embraced  and  promoted  this  issue while turning a blind eye towards
   the greater anthropogenic contributors to marine ecosystem degradation. I
   don't want to paint removal efforts as scapegoating, but aren't we somewhat
   guilty here of picking off the low hanging fruit?      Since emails can
   sometimes misrepresent intended tone and demeanor, please be assured that I
   raise these questions with sincere respect and admiration for all involved.

   -----Original Message-----
   >From: "Bruno, John"
   >Sent: Feb 2, 2014 8:15 AM
   >To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
   >Subject: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news
   >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
   >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
   >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
   >Coral-List mailing list
   >Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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