Feeding Habits of Pterois volitans: A Real Threat to Caribbean Coral Reef Biodiversity

  • Arturo Acero P.Email author
  • Diana Bustos-Montes
  • P. Pabón Quintero
  • Carlos Julio Polo-Silva
  • A. Sanjuan Muñoz
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 29)


Lionfish consume at least 250 fish and crustaceans prey species in the western Atlantic. Main taxa eaten include grunts (Haemulon aurolineatum), wrasses (Thalassoma bifasciatum and Halichoeres spp.), damselfishes (Stegastes partitus and Chromis cyanea), gobies (Coryphopterus personatus), labrisomids (Malacoctenus triangulatus) and Pterois volitans. Because lionfish prey on such a long list of Caribbean reef fauna it should be considered a generalist invasive species that even threats commercially and ecologically important species such as grunts, groupers, snappers, triggerfishes, parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, gobies, lobsters, and cleaner shrimps. Four richness estimators indicate that lionfish may consume around 300 species. Stable isotopes analysis ratifies that most prey eaten by lionfish are reef dwellers. Lionfish diets from the Colombian Caribbean appear distant from the Bahamas and Cayman Island diets in a cluster analysis. Research and monitoring of this dangerous invading species should be maintained.


Pterois Volitans Coral Reef Biodiversity Lionfish Chromis Cyanea Cleaner Shrimp 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We deeply thank our Colombian institutions (Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Caribe and Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano), which let us face coordinately this unexpected and powerful menace. Funds for our research came from COLCIENCIAS (Project code 1361-521-28271), Universidad Nacional de Colombia (project codes 10498, 12397, 16265, 34831, 36649, and 39149) and Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano (project codes 558-10-13, 639-11-14 and 694-12-15). Santiago Estrada R. (Reef Shepperd Center) loaned the underwater photographs and collaborated with the Santa Marta field trips. Officers from the Parque Nacional Natural Corales de Profundidad, especially Alejandro Henao, donated deep reef lionfish specimens. Humberto Gómez-Pardo, María Camila Rodríguez and Josselyn Bryan helped us with the photographs of some stomach contents items. Many other graduate and undergraduate students from our institutions generously helped us to gather data from Colombian environments. Luisa María Sanjuan Agudelo checked English grammar and style. Contribution No. 470 of the Instituto de Estudios en Ciencias del Mar, Cecimar, Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Caribe.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arturo Acero P.
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diana Bustos-Montes
    • 1
  • P. Pabón Quintero
    • 1
  • Carlos Julio Polo-Silva
    • 2
  • A. Sanjuan Muñoz
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto de Estudios en Ciencias del Mar (CECIMAR). Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede CaribeSanta MartaColombia
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias Naturales e IngenieríaUniversidad Jorge Tadeo LozanoSanta MartaColombia

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