Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 237-241

First online:

Phenotypic variation of lionfish supraocular tentacles

  • James A. MorrisJr.Affiliated withNOAA National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research Email author 
  • , D. Wilson FreshwaterAffiliated withCenter for Marine Science, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

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A previous observation suggested that a novel phenotype of lionfish supraocular tentacle is evolving rapidly in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. We confirm the existence of this phenotype in high prevalence in invasive populations of lionfish in the Western North Atlantic. Observations of individual lionfish from the Atlantic populations indicate that supraocular tentacles are more prevalent on juvenile and young adult lionfish suggesting this characteristic is size specific and is not associated with a genetic lineage. The high prevalence of this novel phenotype in the Atlantic may be a founder effect rather than continued selection. Genetic analysis further supports this conclusion as this phenotype is present in two Pterois species found in the Atlantic.


Pterois volitans Pterois miles Lionfish Peacock-feather tentacles Signal