Our Project

Duane Sanabria

Duane Sanabria


Since the mid 1980s, two Indo-Pacific lionfishes, Pterois volitans and P. miles have established a significant presence in the western North Atlantic, including the Caribbean Sea and Puerto Rico. The presence of these voracious carnivores has raised concerns regarding the biology and ecology of native species, including the possibility that they are significantly reducing the abundances of native species through predation, reducing juvenile populations of commercially important species and/or increasing competition for food resources with other impacted species sharing the same dietary preferences.  In short, lionfish are perceived to significantly affect ecosystem function and associated ecosystem services. Theoretical studies have suggested that small-scale lionfish removals (e.g. localized removals or derbies) may be a useful management tool (for example in small marine protected areas). Despite the popularity of lionfish derbies, especially among recreational fishers, there exist no quantitative data on their overall impact that could be used to model their management effectiveness under a variety of conditions.


This study aims to provide data that will allow the effectiveness of local lionfish removal efforts to be quantified and modeled. There are five specific goals:

(1) To assess the temporal and spatial effectiveness of localized lionfish removal through an experimental approach, including the quantification of catch/effort relative to population size and density

(2) To assess the effectiveness of a lionfish removal event on the degree and rate of recovery of native reef fish species commonly found in lionfish stomachs

(3) To assess the time frame and mechanisms of lionfish re-colonization

(4) To provide an economic impact assessment should prey items include commercially important species

(5) To provide public outreach through educational booths at lionfish removal events and informative lectures