March 21, 2015
It’s amazing to see how a foreign organism can wreck havoc on our ecosystem that ultimately affect us economically. A non- indigenous species is an organism (plant, animal microbe) found living outside of its natural range as a result of intentional or accidental dispersal by human activities. Once in a new environment, an organism may adapt and reproduce having little effect on its surroundings. When the opposite occurs and the organism is ecologically and/ or economically harmful, they are considered invasive. Invasive species can dramatically change the structure and function of marine ecosystems by changing biodiversity and eliminating vital components of the food chains.
In the late 1990s the Lionfish was introduced in the waters off the western
Atlantic Ocean, becoming an invasive species. Lionfish are successful invaders and they could impact the native ecosystem through predatory interactions. Lionfish feed on a wide variety of smaller fishes, shrimp, and crabs (Fishelson, 1975; Sano et al., 1984). These prey items are abundant on southeast United States shelf reefs and wrecks (Wenner et al.,
1983). With the abundance of food found in this area, the lionfish will continue migrate and populate there. Lionfish have no known predators outside of its native habitat, though there are reports that grouper, snapper and large eels have eaten healthy, uninjured lionfish in the Caribbean Sea.
The ecosystem in the southeast United States will change due to the overfishing of the reef fish predators (snapper and grouper) causing a growth and dispersal of the Lionfish population. This is causing a huge threat to Florida’s economic problems. In the Pensacola
News Journal, invasive lionfish are a serious threat to Florida’s saltwater fishing industry- the second largest in the nation—and the thousands of jobs it supports, according to an economic commentary from Florida Tax Watch. Some 109,000 jobs tied to recreational fishing industry, bolster the state economy, the report reveals. (paragraph 1) According to the report,