As the crew from Mark Hixon’s lab at Oregon State University round the halfway point of their summer field season here at CEI, the team has already logged almost 200 dives while conducting their underwater research. Ph.D. student Tye Kindinger has started a brand new project this summer investigating the interactive effect of invasive lionfish predation on competition between two native species of basslets. Fairy and blackcap basslets are popular fish in the aquarium trade due to their bright and beautiful color.
Off of Eleuthera, these basslets can be found on coral reefs, where they live under the same ledges and potentially compete for plankton (food) that is passing by. Invasive lionfish could affect these populations of basslets depending on whether lionfish prefer to eat one species of basslet over the other. In addition, aggressive behavior between the basslet species due to competition could cause one basslet species to be more vulnerable to lionfish predation, depending on where lionfish prefer to hunt under ledges. Tye is excited to see how this interaction between invasive lionfish and native basslets will play out this summer as she continues to monitor basslet survivorship, growth, and behavior, as well as lionfish hunting behavior throughout her study ledges.