Date Thesis Awarded

5-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Interdisciplinary Studies

Advisor

Doug DeBerry

Committee Member

James Perry

Committee Member

Randolph Chambers

Abstract

Lionfish (genus Pterois) are a carnivorous, venomous fish native to the Indo-Pacific that are now invasive in the Western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. They are extremely adaptable, eat a wide variety of native fish species, and are prolific breeders. The rapid infiltration of lionfish into native reef ecosystems have caused the invasion to be recognized as one of the world’s top conservation issues.

Since 1990, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) has employed widespread fish count program that educates divers about fish identification and collects citizen data in an extensive database. I utilized this data to illustrate the change in lionfish populations in their invasive range in comparison to populations of a number of other reef fish species. I then conducted a Spearman rank order correlation to determine the relationship between changing lionfish abundance indices and prey species abundance indices, and found that most prey species abundance indices were not correlated with lionfish or were positively correlation with lionfish. Further research is required to determine if the REEF database reflects an accurate representation lionfish populations.

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