Spatio-temporal distribution of lionfish, Pterois miles (Bennett, 1828) in Kas-Kekova special environmental protected area, Turkey.
The invasive alien lionfish, Pterois miles is a ray-finned fish from the Scorpaenidae family, which has twelve accepted species from the genus Pterois. It was recorded in May 2014 at the Pina Reef, 2.28 miles off Kas harbour (southwestern coasts of Turkey) for the first time, and showed a very rapid establishment in the rocky habitats throughout Kas-Kekova Special Environmental Protected Area (SEPA). During the summer of 2014 only three individuals were recorded at two different locations, however as of 2017, regular observations could be made at each diving spot, which is indicative of an increasing trend. The temporal perspective of this study increases the understanding on the progression of expected range expansion of P. miles within a relatively small region, covering the period of 2014-2019. Fish count observations from underwater visual census surveys in addition to records from citizen science approach were evaluated based on spatio-temporal analysis. Resulting visualizations were prepared to present annual dynamics of spatio-temporal distribution within and outside the SEPA. Rapid expansion, up to 22 individuals per 500 m linear transects of an estimated area of 15.000 m2 each, and the increases in the numbers of fish are quantified in this study, which can be used as a baseline to develop conservation strategy for native species. Efforts to cull and create consumption demand to decrease the population trend of the lionfish have already started in the region.