Phenotypic variation of lionfish supraocular tentacles
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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.
KeywordsPterois volitans Pterois miles Lionfish Peacock-feather tentacles Signal
The authors thank L. Akins and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation for their gracious support, and B. Purdy and Blackbeard’s Cruises for facilitating the collection of Bahamian specimens. We are also very grateful to P. Whitfield, D. Kesling, J. Styron, C. Addison, B. Degan, R. Mays, J. Hackney, R. Muñoz, K. Brennan, J. Vander-Pluym, and B. Teer for collection assistance. We thank L. Vitale (Fig. 1a) and S. Sy (Fig. 1b) who provided photographs and D. Ahrenholz, D. Evans, J. Govoni, and E. Williams whose reviews significantly improved this manuscript. This work was funded in part by the NOAA Invasive Species Program and Friends of the Center for Marine Science DNA Algal Trust. Mention of brand names or manufacturer does not imply endorsement by the US Federal Government.
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