Our work on marine invasions

An ecological disaster has quickly unfolded on Caribbean reefs since the mid 2000s. Lionfish from the Indo-Pacific were introduced to the eastern coast of the USA in the early 1990s.  They have spread rapidly across coral reefs of the Caribbean region and are now found in phenomenally high densities on some Bahamian reefs (Green and Côté 2008).  These predatory fish hunt in broad daylight (Côté and Maljković 2010), have few predators, and are highly fecund.  The TMEL’s work has focused on examining how habitat heterogeneity affects lionfish movement, and hence invasion speed (Natascia Tamburello), measuring and predicting the ecological impacts of this invasion on native reef fish (Stephanie Green), testing how best to control lionfish numbers to mitigate their effects (Nicola Smith), and evaluating the evolutionary (Lily Haines) and economic impacts of this invasions (Evan Henderson, Luis Malpica).

Some of our publications on marine invasions

  • Côté, I.M and Maljković, A. 2010. Predation rates of Indo-Pacific lionfish on Bahamian coral reefs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 404, 219-225.
  • Darling, E.S., Green, S.J., O’Leary, J.K. and Côté, I.M. 2011. Indo-Pacific lionfish are larger and more abundant on invaded reefs: A comparison of Kenyan and Bahamian lionfish populations. Biological Invasions 13, 2045-2051.
  • Green, S.J., Akins, J.L, Maljković, A. and Côté, I.M. 2012. Invasive lionfish drive native Atlantic coral reef fish declines.  PLOS One 7(3), e32596.
  • Green, S.J. and Côté, I.M. 2014. Behaviour and morphology determine vulnerability of native fishes to an invasive marine predator. Journal of Animal Ecology 83, 1451-1460.
  • Côté, I.M., Darling, E.S., Malpica-Cruz, L., Smith, N.S., Green, S.J., Curtis-Quick, J., and Layman, C.A. 2014. What doesn’t kill you makes you wary?  Effect of repeated culling on the behaviour of an invasive predator. PLOS One 9, e94248.
  • Green, S.J, Dulvy, N.K., Brooks, A.L.M., Akins, J.L., Cooper, A.B., Miller, S., and Côté, I.M.  2014. Linking removal targets to the ecological effects of invaders: a predictive model and field test. Ecological Applications 24, 1311-1322.
  • Malpica-Cruz, L., Chaves. L.C.T., and Côté, I.M. 2016. Drivers of public participation in marine invasive species management: Lionfish derbies as a case study. Marine Policy 74, 158-164.
  • Smith, N.S., Green, S.J., Akins, J.L., Miller, S., and Côté, I.M. 2017. Density-dependent colonization and natural disturbance limit the effectiveness of invasive lionfish culling efforts. Biological Invasions 19, 2385–2399.
  • Haines, L.J. and Côté, I.M. 2019. Homing decisions reveal naïveté of Caribbean damselfish to invasive lionfish. Biological Invasions 21, 1657–1668.
  • Tamburello, N., Ma, B. and Côté, I.M. 2019. From individual movement behaviour to landscape-scale invasion dynamics and management: a case study of a lionfish metapopulation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 374, 20180057.