Feature Article: First Larval Record of Lionfish

Larval lionfish photo from featured paper.












With the Abaco lionfish derby just a week away, some more recent information
on the invasion.  Today’s featured paper describes the first ever documentation
of lionfish larvae in the Caribbean.

Even with the rapid spread of lionfish throughout the Caribbean, this is the  first documentation of a lionfish larvae.  After mating, females lay an egg mass that  disintegrates in a couple of days, releasing the tiny (just a couple of mm) lionfish larvae.  Then, like many marine fishes, the larvae are pelagic, i.e., they live in the water column floating on the prevailing currents.  With a larval phase of ~30 days, they may travel hundreds of miles in strong currents.  They would then “settle” out of the plankton when they reach about 1cm in length.

So lionfish are everywhere…..but where are all of the larvae?  Incredibly, they have yet to documented until this recent paper.  This is a real mystery – how can the invasion be so pervasive yet larvae not more commonly observed?  Fully understanding the trajectory of the invasion necessitates a better understanding of their larval ecology.

A lionfish recently settled from the plankton. Although small lionfish such as this are often spotted, little is known about the ~2months leading up to this life stage.


By | 2017-12-01T14:04:56-04:00 June 15th, 2012|Categories: Fish, Invasive Species, lionfish|Comments Off on Feature Article: First Larval Record of Lionfish

About the Author:

Craig Layman
My lab’s interdisciplinary pursuits provide for a multi-faceted understanding of environmental change in the coastal realm. We are ecologists, asking questions that span population, community, ecosystem and evolutionary sub-disciplines. We often use a food web based perspective, exploring top-down (e.g., predation) and bottom-up (e.g., nutrient excretion) mechanisms by which animals affect ecosystem processes. All of our efforts are framed within a broader outreach framework, directly integrating science and education, using approaches such as this website.