Whenever a new invasive species takes over an ecosystem, it becomes a threat to the ecological balance in the area. According to marine biologists from Plymouth University, the recent lionfish invasion poses a threat to the natural balance in some regions of the Mediterranean Sea.
This venomous predator was noticed in large numbers on the coast of Cyprus. According to the study made by researchers at Plymouth University, they have colonized the entire coast of Cyprus, menacing the natural equilibrium between the species living in the area.
The experts recommend taking prompt measures before the lionfish invasion becomes too large to be controlled. The authors of the study identified more than 20 specimens. Also, the experts observed their mating ritual for the first time in the Mediterranean Sea.
The lionfish invasion will be hard to control, as the fish have very few natural predators. Most likely this is due to their venomous spines that prevent them from becoming an easy prey. However, in their habitat, there are a few species that keep the population under control, such as the moray eels, large groupers, and blue spotted cornetfish.
Unfortunately, Mediterranean Sea is a natural environment only for the groupers. Also, experts advise, the population of groupers on the Cyprus coast is not large enough to deal with the invasion.
Moreover, due to their venom, they are known to be good predators also. The lionfish invasion poses a threat to the ecological balance as they are avid predators, feeding on herbivorous fish that keep the seaweed and algae levels under control.
In the past, they also invaded the Caribbean Sea. Their presence in that area coincided with a decline in the native population of herbivorous fish, which resulted in an unprecedented growth of the seaweed levels. Their impact was so destructive that experts registered a 65 percent decline in the herbivorous species in the area. Moreover, this significant decrease affected the coral reefs, which eventually suffocated due the growth of the seaweed levels.
The fact that the lionfish invasion poses a threat to the Mediterranean ecosystem is not yet irreversible, like it was in the Caribbean Sea. So far the population is not numerous enough to become a menace for the environment. However, unless prompt measures are taken, they will soon be very hard to control, and the consequences will impact the ecosystem in a negative way.
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