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Assessing the viability of complete lionfish eradication in the western Atlantic and Caribbean – Insights from past successes and failures within the marine environment

Wilms, T.J.G. (2015) Assessing the viability of complete lionfish eradication in the western Atlantic and Caribbean – Insights from past successes and failures within the marine environment. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Abstract

Over the past three decades, two species of lionfish (Pterois volitans & P. miles) have been introduced and become widespread in the western-Atlantic and Caribbean, resulting in one of the most devastating marine invasions to date. With a distinct advantage over competitors due to prey naïveté and few known predators, lionfish numbers have exploded at the cost of many native fish species. To prevent a collapse of the native system, scientists and involved parties have been searching for methods to control and preferably eradicate this exotic invader. In this study, a series of examples from past eradication attempts within the marine environment is used to gain useful insights on key elements leading towards success, as well as lessons learned from complete failures. These insights revealed two crucial factors to be providing a hindrance to success of lionfish eradication, being insufficient knowledge on species biology and biotic controls in their native range, together with a lack of tools and strategies for large-scale lionfish removals with minimal collateral damage. Until these constraints are dealt with, complete eradication cannot realistically be pursued and efforts should focus on protecting endangered species and mitigating effects within protected areas instead. Finally, two potential future scenarios are discussed. Lionfish are either likely to stabilize in numbers and live in conjunction with native species through evolutionary adaptation of the latter, or provide a self-induced biotic control by exceeding the carrying capacity of the system. This study concludes by providing a link to a recent article about cannibalism amongst lionfish, indicating that the latter ‘doom’ scenario has possibly already been initiated.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:08
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:08
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/13366

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