Invasive Lionfish Biology Between Two Regions of the Western Atlantic and Caribbean
Invasive lionfish (<i>Pterois spp</i>.) were first detected off the coast of Florida in the 1980s and since then have spread throughout the western Atlantic and the Caribbean. Lionfish consume other fish species as well as invertebrates and cephalopods. The presence of this new invasive predator on reefs may alter the community structure and understanding the life history of lionfish is important when considering management strategies. From 2015 - 2017, 428 lionfish were collected off of the coast of South Carolina, USA, and 1,198 lionfish were collected off of the coast of Honduras. Length frequencies differed by region and sex, with a higher proportion of males being larger than females. Length and weight relationships differed by region, with fish in South Carolina weighing more at a given length. Lionfish ages ranged from 0-7 years in both regions, with males having larger asymptotic lengths than females in both regions. Females had a higher growth coefficient than males in Honduras. Both males and females had a larger asymptotic length in South Carolina than in Honduras. Females in Honduras had a larger growth coefficient than females in South Carolina. The female:male sex ratio in Honduras was 0.75:1 which differed from South Carolina's 1:1 sex ratio. Total lengths at 50% maturity were greater for females than for males in both regions. South Carolina had smaller male and female lengths at 50% mature than Honduras. Spawning fraction of females in Honduras was 14% and 20% in South Carolina. The spawning interval in Honduras was 7 days and 5 days in South Carolina. This study provides a consistent comparison of the life history of lionfish across regions, with Honduras representing the furthest south site that a comprehensive lionfish life history study has been done.