Wednesday, 02 March 2016 A Thorny Matter: Invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish in the Western Atlantic

A Thorny Matter: Invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish in the Western Atlantic

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Lionfish were introduced by aquarium hobbyists to waters off the southeast coast of Florida in the 1980s.  Over the past ten years, these beautiful, ornate fish have rapidly spread across the entire tropical western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Venezuela, throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.  The population sizes in the invaded range commonly exceed those from their native habitats by several orders of magnitude.  With a seemingly insatiable appetite for our native fishes, and a lack of local predators and disease to keep them in check, Lionfish can have detrimental effects on the invaded marine ecosystem.  In this talk, we will review the history of the invasion, discuss the biology and ecology that has allowed them to be so successful, highlight some damaging impacts they can have, and finish with what scientists are doing to combat the problem.

Dr. Stallings is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science.  His research seeks to understand the factors that affect the sizes of fish populations, including those that are of commercial and recreational importance.  His recent work on Lionfish has included the largest field experiment ever attempted to estimate the effort required to reduce their populations, analyzing removal data from the National Park Service, and lobbying the Florida Congress to heighten awareness and increase action from the state.

The speaker series is located at Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center at 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St Petersburg, FL 33702. Light refreshments generously donated from the Friends of Weedon Island (http://fowi.org) will be served prior to the 7 p.m. seminar. Please arrive 15 minutes early to sign in.

This program is recommended for an adult audience.   For more information click on this event.