Thursday, 27 November 2014

Lionfish Predation Habits And Ideal Prey Analyzed In New Study

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

Majestic lionfish have been spotted in the Caribbean and Atlantic since the 1980s and these invasive fish have a reputation for ferocious predation and rapid expansion.

Now, a new study by researchers from Oregon State University and Simon Fraser University in Canada has revealed details surrounding the lionfish’s predation habits and ideal prey.

“With species now moving all over the world in both marine and terrestrial systems, we need to know who will eat whom when species encounter each other for the first time,” said study author Stephanie Green, a research fellow in the OSU College of Science.

“Normally, predator-prey experiments take a lot of effort and time,” Green said. “But there are mathematical techniques that can help us better understand what is happening when we observe animals hunting in the wild, and why some species get eaten and others don’t.”

Published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the new study reveals that the lionfish’s ideal prey is a small, solitary fish with a long, skinny body situated near the seafloor.

By analyzing studies on the observations of lionfish predation and the stomach contents of these fish, the study team was successfully able to identify what traits all lionfish prey tend to have in common.

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