Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 102, Issue 6, pp 887–900 | Cite as

The life history characteristics of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) in Bermuda

  • Corey EddyEmail author
  • Joanna Pitt
  • Ken Oliveira
  • James A. MorrisJr
  • Jennifer Potts
  • Diego Bernal


Since the first reported sighting of Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) in the Atlantic Ocean over 30 years ago, growing evidence suggests they may have a marked negative impact upon ecosystems and demersal communities. While lionfish populations expanded rapidly in most locations following their initial establishment, the population in Bermuda, the first location outside of the United States to be invaded, appears to be growing at a slower pace. This study investigated the life history characteristics of the invasive lionfish population in Bermuda to help understand population dynamics and thus potential impacts on Bermuda’s coral reef ecosystem. Annual growth rings in lionfish otoliths were counted to describe population structure and establish size-at-age, which was then utilized to estimate growth parameters using von Bertalanffy models. Macroscopic and histological staging of ovaries, calculations of gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indices, and enumerations of mature oocytes were used to describe reproductive seasonality and capacity. Our findings show that lionfish in Bermuda appear to grow faster and attain larger mean sizes than they do in their native range or elsewhere in the invaded range. Lionfish in Bermuda, however, appear to reach maturity at larger sizes and have a shorter spawning season, a likely result of the cool winter seawater temperatures in the region. It is possible that the combination of these life history characteristics could mitigate or delay the ecological impact that invasive lionfish may have on this marine ecosystem.


Lionfish Life history Bermuda Otolith Histology Reproduction Temperature size rule 



Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (DGE-1144241); the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ Darwin Plus Programme (DPLUS001); and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The Bermuda Zoological Society helped administer and manage the DEFRA grant. Logistic support was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bermuda’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Ocean Support Foundation. We thank the DENR for allowing us to collect lionfish in Bermuda waters and the NOAA reviewers for their valuable comments as we revised the manuscript. The authors thank Mandy Shailer from the DENR for her assistance with GIS mapping, Alex Fogg for his help with coding in R, and Jirani Welch for spotting the spawning pair of lionfish while reviewing hundreds of mesophotic photos. The authors are especially grateful to all lionfish hunters in the Bermuda Lionfish Culling Program, and those commercial fishermen who provided lionfish for this study.

Supplementary material

10641_2019_877_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 6687 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corey Eddy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joanna Pitt
    • 2
  • Ken Oliveira
    • 1
  • James A. MorrisJr
    • 3
  • Jennifer Potts
    • 3
  • Diego Bernal
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Massachusetts DartmouthDartmouthUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of BermudaHamiltonBermuda
  3. 3.National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationBeaufortUSA

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