In less than 30 years, lionfish have dramatically expanded their distribution range to an area encompassing the eastern coast of the USA, Bermuda, the entire Caribbean region and the Gulf of Mexico.
The rapidity of the lionfish spread has raised concerns in other parts of the Atlantic that may be under the reach of the invasion.
In an article just published in the open access science journal PloS One, the first appearance of lionfish off the Brazilian coast have been reported.
The invasion of the northwestern Atlantic by the Indo-Pacific lionfish has developed extraordinarily fast, and is expected to cause one of the most negative ecological impacts among all marine invasions. Despite the anticipation that lionfish would eventually extend their range throughout most of the eastern coast of South America, it had not been recorded in Brazil until now.
The collected specimens are genetically linked to the invasive Caribbean population. Since small-range endemics are found in several locations in Brazil and are among the species that are most vulnerable to extinction, the researchers recommend urgent control, management and education measures aimed at minimizing the effects of this impending invasion.