Nav: Home

New model predicts impact of invasive lionfish predators on coral reefs

June 06, 2019

A new model is providing insight into the impact of invasive lionfish on coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The venomous predatory fish has invaded more than 7.3 million square kilometres in the Atlantic and Caribbean, wreaking havoc among native fish populations.

The method, developed and tested with coral reef fish in the Bahamas through an international collaboration of scientists in Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom, is based on the behaviours used by prey to avoid being eaten by predators that use different hunting tactics.

"Many scientists have speculated that invasive lionfish are so successful in the Atlantic because prey don't recognize them as a predator," explained Stephanie Green, assistant professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Biological Sciences and lead author.

Stephanie Green, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, swims alongside a lionfish.

"However, we found that reef fish enter the 'danger zone'--close enough to be eaten--around invasive lionfish at similar rates to native predators. But for those prey that stray too close to lionfish, they are up to twice as likely to be captured than by predators that are naturally found on Caribbean reefs."

The ranges of many predators are expected to grow, due to climate change and future invasions. The new method is designed to help both scientists and conservationists better understand how predators select their prey. In the case of lionfish, the scientists' hope the model can help them identify areas where native species are most vulnerable to the novel stalking hunting strategy of lionfish as the invasion spreads.

"As invasions take hold, scientists have few tools to help them predict what the effects will be,and as a result, we often don't understand how invasive predators have changed environments until it is too late," added Mark Hixon, professor at the University of Hawai'i and co-author of the study.

The authors hope their approach can be used by researchers in the Mediterranean who are keen to understand which kinds of fishes and fisheries there will be most affected by the recent invasion of lionfish in this region. Green is also adapting the model to examine predator-prey interactions for albacore tuna with respect to climate change. "We hope that using knowledge of species behaviours can help scientists and managers predict who will eat whom when predators and prey encounter one another in new settings," added Green, who is also a Sloan Research Fellow.
-end-
The paper, "Trait-mediated foraging drives patterns of selective predation by native and invasive coral-reef fishes," is published in Ecosphere (doi: 10.1002/ecs2.27520).

University of Alberta

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.