Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Consumptive and non-consumptive effects of an invasive marine predator on native coral-reef herbivores.

Abstract

Invasive predators typically have larger effects on native prey populations than native predators, yet the potential roles of their consumptive versus non-consumptive effects (CEs vs. NCEs) in structuring invaded systems remains unclear. Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) may have ecosystem-level effects by altering native fish grazing on benthic algae that could otherwise displace corals. Lionfish could reduce grazing by decreasing the abundance of herbivorous fishes (CEs), and/or the predation risk posed by lionfish could alter grazing behavior of fishes (NCEs). To test for these CEs, we manipulated lionfish densities on large reefs in The Bahamas and surveyed fish populations throughout June 2009-2011. In July 2011, NCEs of lionfish were measured by observing fish grazing behavior on algal-covered substrata placed in microhabitats varying in lionfish presence at different spatial scales, and quantifying any resulting algal loss. Lionfish reduced small herbivorous fish density by the end of the 2010 summer recruitment season. Grazing by small and large fishes was reduced on high-lionfish-density reefs, and small fish grazing further decreased when in the immediate presence of lionfish within-reefs. Lionfish had a negative indirect effect on algal loss, with 66-80% less algae removed from substrata in high-lionfish-density reefs. Parrotfishes were likely driving the response of herbivorous fishes to both CEs and NCEs of lionfish. These results demonstrate the importance of considering NCEs in addition to CEs of invasive predators when assessing the effects of invasions.