Data quality and quantity for invasive species: a case study of the lionfishes.
Predicting invasion risk involves inherent uncertainty when data on biological and ecological characteristics are lacking. To combat data gaps, assessors are required to use information from secondary sources, further reducing predictive accuracy. Lionfish in the subfamily Pteroinae have invasion history in the Western Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, raising concern that other species of globally traded lionfish may pose risks similar to the invasive complex comprised of the red lionfish (Pterois volitans, Scorpaenidae) and devil firefish (Pterois miles, Scorpaenidae). We conducted a standardized literature review of 18 species in the genera Pterois, Dendrochirus, and Parapterois to (a) characterize the volume and composition of literature addressing the invasive complex pre-establishment and pre-spread, and compare it to the body of literature that has been generated post-spread and impact, (b) compare the volume and composition of literature addressing other members of Pteroinae to the invasive complex, and (c) evaluate data quality addressing the Pteroinae by characterizing literature used to generate biological profile reports during a risk screening protocol. Little data were available for the invasive complex prior to introduction and focused primarily on the composition or effects of venom. Following introduction, there was a considerable time lag in research effort. Post-spread, research effort increased rapidly. We identify similar data deficiencies for other species of lionfish that have not been reported outside of their native ranges. While proactive management is gaining support as an effective framework, it is important to understand data limitations and their resulting uncertainties, which leads to more informed proactive management.