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Biological Invasions

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 1351–1357 | Cite as

Mayan diver-fishers as citizen scientists: detection and monitoring of the invasive red lionfish in the Parque Nacional Arrecife Alacranes, southern Gulf of Mexico

  • María José López-Gómez
  • Alfonso Aguilar-Perera
  • Leidy Perera-Chan
Invasion Note

Abstract

Biological invasions research has increasingly incorporated the participation of citizen scientists to collect data for monitoring and management purposes. This study outlines collaborative efforts with Mayan lobster diver-fishers, who participated voluntarily as citizen scientists in surveys, to detect and monitor the invasive red lionfish, Pterois volitans, in a marine protected area off the northern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. We engaged these fishers by building local capacity and awareness of the threats of the lionfish invasion on the fishery resources of the area. During the lobster fishing season (July 2010–February 2011), 30 fishers collected 248 red lionfish (9–29 cm TL) and recorded ancillary data (day, month, depth, and approximate coordinates of capture site). This collaboration not only allowed the first lionfish detection in the Parque Nacional Arrecife Alacranes in 2010, but the volunteer-based monitoring effort revealed that the invasion reached levels from intermediate to advanced, with more than 200 specimens captured in less than a year. Our results support the notion that engaging citizen scientists can enhance research, reduce costs, and improve the possibility of a long term monitoring survey.

Keywords

Citizen scientist Volunteer participation Pterois volitans Yucatan Peninsula Gulf of Mexico Red lionfish 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank participant Mayan diver-fishers of the cooperativa “Pescadores del Golfo” in Yucatán. Personnel of the Parque Nacional Arrecife Alacranes—René Kantún, Yrvin Ramírez, Axcan Moreno—provided valuable logistic assistance. Dr. Armin Tuz-Sulub helped in many phases of the work. We thank Ximena González, Kimberly Briceño, and Evelyn Carrillo. This study was partially funded by PROCODES from the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • María José López-Gómez
    • 1
  • Alfonso Aguilar-Perera
    • 1
  • Leidy Perera-Chan
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología MarinaUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMéxico

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