Parasite Fauna and Parasite Release Potential of Atlantic Invasive Lionfishes

Grant Winners

  • David W. Kerstetter, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Christopher Blanar, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kayelyn Simmons, B.S. – Oceanographic Center

Deans

  • Richard Dodge, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Don Rosenblum, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Award Winners

Two species of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish, Pterois volitans and P. miles, are rapidly spreading throughout the greater Caribbean region and the U.S. southeastern Atlantic coast. One of the intriguing possible explanations for the speed of this range expansion is "parasitic release," in which a non-native species experiences a competitive advantage over a native species because of a lack of parasitism. However, this advantage is often temporary, since the native parasites eventually adapt to infect the non-native species as well. This project has three goals: one, to describe the endoparasite fauna of lionfish in the greater Caribbean region; two, to compare endoparasite faunal diversity among locations in the greater Caribbean region; and three, to use the different dates of range expansion to examine the possibility of parasitic release as a factor in the spread of lionfish within the greater Caribbean region.