Feeding ecology of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the Bahamian archipelago

  • James A. MorrisJr.Email author
  • John L. Akins


Feeding ecology of the lionfish (Pterois volitans), an invasive species in the Western North Atlantic, was examined by collecting stomach content data from fishes taken throughout the Bahamian archipelago. Three relative metrics of prey quantity, including percent number, percent frequency, and percent volume, were used to compare three indices of dietary importance. Lionfish largely prey upon teleosts (78% volume) and crustaceans (14% volume). Twenty-one families and 41 species of teleosts were represented in the diet of lionfish; the top 10 families of dietary importance were Gobiidae, Labridae, Grammatidae, Apogonidae, Pomacentridae, Serranidae, Blenniidae, Atherinidae, Mullidae, and Monacanthidae. The proportional importance of crustaceans in the diet was inversely related to size with the largest lionfish preying almost exclusively on teleosts. Lionfish were found to be diurnal feeders with the highest predation occurring in the morning (08:00–11:00).


Pterois Diet composition Stomach content Invasive species 



This work was funded in part by the NOAA Aquatic Invasive Species Program, the Elisabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation, and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). We are grateful to dive operators B. Purdy and S. Cove for their gracious support. All lionfish were collected under a research permit MAF/FIS/12: MAF/FIS/17 to J. Morris. We thank D. Ahrenholz, J. Burke, D. Cerino, I. Côté, S. Green, J. Govoni, P. Schofield, J. Smith, E. Williams, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this manuscript. We also thank A. Dehart and the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., A. Benson, S. Green, K. Sealey, E. Joseph, M. Tucker, N. Smith, C. Rochelle, C. Butler, E. Davenport, and REEF Staff, for their invaluable assistance. A special thank you to the more than two hundred REEF volunteers whose dedicated efforts in the field made this work possible.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceBeaufortUSA
  2. 2.Reef Environmental Education FoundationKey LargoUSA

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