Case study

Darwin Plus grant: Bermuda invasive lionfish initiative

Darwin’s support to the UK Overseas Territories is helping to control invasive lionfish in the western Atlantic ocean.

Invasive Lionfish

The invasive lionfish threatens native populations of economically and ecologically important fish species and impacts the overall health of coral reef ecosystems. Controlling the spread of this invasive species in Bermuda’s waters is vital to minimising these impacts. This includes impacts on fisheries, tourism, and public health.

Reducing the invasive species

The project funded by Darwin Plus is providing important scientific data for the development and implementation of an island-wide management plan. This includes information on lionfish abundance and distribution, feeding ecology, and population dynamics. The project is hoping to develop a lionfish-specific trap to help with the large-scale, long-term removal of the species from deeper waters that are more difficult to reach.

Scuba diver spearing a lionfish

The team has conducted surveys of lionfish and prey fish to understand diet preferences, demography, and population genetics. The data will be used to develop a model of the Bermuda lionfish population to highlight areas for targeted removal and management in the future.

This cooperative team has made great strides toward furthering our understanding of lionfish ecology and population demography in Bermuda’s waters.

The Bermuda Invasive Lionfish Control Initiative project will generate the tools and data required for the implementation of the Bermuda Lionfish Control Plan. This plan will provide strategies for government and other stakeholders to control the lionfish population at a level that will reduce the long-term impact of this invasive species on native fishes, reef communities, the island’s economy and public health.

Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley in the lab
Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley in the lab

Darwin support to the UK Overseas Territories

The purpose of the Darwin Plus Fund is broad and incorporates biodiversity, conservation and climate-related issues. Funding for the Bermuda Invasive Lionfish Control Initiative was awarded during the first round of funding.

Published 16 May 2014