Occurrence of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) larvae in the northern Gulf of Mexico: characterization of dispersal pathways and spawning areas

L. L. Kitchens, Claire B Paris-Limouzy, A. C. Vaz, J. G. Ditty, M. Cornic, J. H. Cowan, J. R. Rooker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Here we document for the first time the presence of invasive lionfish larvae (Pterois volitans) in the Gulf of Mexico. Three lionfish larvae (standard length: 3.9–5.9 mm) were collected during summer ichthyoplankton surveys in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2011, with species identification confirmed through the genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA. Pigmentation patterns of these larvae are described and compared with published lionfish descriptions. Otolith microstructure analysis revealed that larvae were 14–17 days old and that spawning occurred in June and July. A biophysical dispersal model was used to backtrack larvae to their potential spawning locations and results indicated that spawning occurred in the southern Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatán Peninsula, suggesting that these larvae may have been transported into the northern Gulf of Mexico by the Loop Current. Here we provide useful information for identifying lionfish larvae and offer insight into lionfish spawning and larval dispersal pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Invasions
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 22 2017

Keywords

  • Fish larvae
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Larval dispersal
  • Lionfish
  • Morphology
  • Pterois volitans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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