With her 6th grade science project, Lauren Arrington, a student at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, spurred important scientific research on invasive lionfish. Dr. Craig Layman, Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Fellow at North Carolina State University, said that Lauren’s research “influential project was the final push that spurred us to do the study ourselves. The findings have important implications about the potential scope of the lionfish invasion, that is, that estuaries throughout the Caribbean may soon be impacted by the invasion.”
Lauren’s science fair project, “Understanding the Limitations of Lionfish Invasions,” focused on understanding the salinity limit lionfish can tolerate and was recently referenced in the peer-reviewed scientific publication Environmental Biology of Fishes. Lionfish are invasive, non-native predatory fish that have a big impact on native fish because they eat large quantities of juvenile fish. Research has clearly demonstrated the detrimental effect of lionfish on Florida’s reefs, but little was known about how prevalent lionfish are in estuaries such as the Loxahatchee River, which serve as nurseries for many fish species.