For years, the runaway success of red lionfish in the Caribbean Basin has produced much debate among biologists, but a new study published in PLoS One may have isolated one powerful advantage of the invasive species. Authors Oona Lönnstedt and Mark McCormick of Australia’s James Cook University believe that lionfish might be “invisible” to their prey.
“Lionfish are native to the Pacific, but have been taking over the Caribbean Basin ever since they were accidentally introduced almost 30 years ago,” McCormick told phys.org. “Their extreme success as an invasive predator has long been a mystery to ecologists worldwide.”
In the study, researchers took a number of juvenile damselfish and exposed them to three predator species. The damselfish were able to detect rockcod and Zebra turkeyfish, but the red lionfish were virtually undetected.