Hot or not? Comparative behavioral thermoregulation, critical temperature regimes, and thermal tolerances of the invasive lionfish Pterois sp. versus native western North Atlantic reef fishes
Temperature influences the geographic range, physiology, and behavior of many ectothermic species, including the invasive lionfish Pterois sp. Thermal parameters were experimentally determined for wild-caught lionfish at different acclimation temperatures (13, 20, 25 and 32 °C). Preferences and avoidance were evaluated using a videographic shuttlebox system, while critical thermal methodology evaluated tolerance. The lionfish thermal niche was compared experimentally to two co-occurring reef fishes (graysby Cephalopholis cruentata and schoolmaster Lutjanus apodus) also acclimated to 25 °C. The physiologically optimal temperature for lionfish is likely 28.7 ± 1 °C. Lionfish behavioral thermoregulation was generally linked to acclimation history; tolerance and avoidance increased significantly at higher acclimation temperatures, but final preference did not. The tolerance polygon of lionfish shows a strong correlation between thermal limits and acclimation temperature, with the highest CTmax at 39.5 °C and the lowest CTmin at 9.5 °C. The tolerance range of invasive lionfish (24.61 °C) is narrower than those of native graysby (25.25 °C) and schoolmaster (26.87 °C), mostly because of lower thermal maxima in the former. Results show that lionfish display “acquired” thermal tolerance at higher and lower acclimation temperatures, but are no more eurythermal than other tropical fishes. Collectively, these results suggest that while lionfish range expansion in the western Atlantic is likely over the next century from rising winter sea temperatures due to climate change, the magnitude of poleward radiation of this invasive species is limited and will likely be equivalent to native tropical and subtropical fishes with similar thermal minima.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Barker, B.D., Horodysky, A.Z. & Kerstetter, D.W. Hot or not? Comparative behavioral thermoregulation, critical temperature regimes, and thermal tolerances of the invasive lionfish Pterois sp. versus native western North Atlantic reef fishes. Biol Invasions 20, 45–58 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1511-4