The Indo-pacific panther grouper (Chromileptes altiveli) is a predatory fish species and popular imported aquarium fish in the United States which has been recently documented residing in western Atlantic waters. To date, the most successful marine invasive species in the Atlantic is the lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles), which, as for the panther grouper, is assumed to have been introduced to the wild through aquarium releases. However, unlike lionfish, the panther grouper is not yet thought to have an established breeding population in the Atlantic. Using a proven modeling technique developed to track the lionfish invasion, presented is the first known estimation of the potential spread of panther grouper in the Atlantic. The employed cellular automaton-based computer model examines the life history of the subject species including fecundity, mortality, and reproductive potential and combines this with habitat preferences and physical oceanic parameters to forecast the distribution and periodicity of spread of this potential new invasive species. Simulations were examined for origination points within one degree of capture locations of panther grouper from the United States Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database to eliminate introduction location bias, and two detailed case studies were scrutinized. The model indicates three primary locations where settlement is likely given the inputs and limits of the model; Jupiter Florida/Vero Beach, the Cape Hatteras Tropical Limit/Myrtle Beach South Carolina, and Florida Keys/Ten Thousand Islands locations. Of these locations, Jupiter Florida/Vero Beach has the highest settlement rate in the model and is indicated as the area in which the panther grouper is most likely to become established. This insight is valuable if attempts are to be made to halt this potential marine invasive species. © 2013 Johnston, Purkis.
Johnston, M. W., & Purkis, S. J. (2013). Modeling the Potential Spread of the Recently Identified Non-Native Panther Grouper (Chromileptes altivelis) in the Atlantic Using a Cellular Automaton Approach. PLoS ONE, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0073023