Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Public Policy & Law

First Advisor

Adrienne Fulco

Second Advisor

Joseph Chambers


The dispersal of the invasive red lionfish (Pterois volitans) across the Caribbean–Atlantic reverberates throughout the region’s public policy, conservation efforts, and economic concerns. Invasions by non–native species generally exhibit a wide range of negative effects on recipient ecosystems, and the lionfish case is no exception. Of central concern, this invasion has occurred at a rate, scale, and magnitude that precludes traditional management efforts. This paper assesses the diverse anthropogenic factors that contributed to the establishment of lionfish within the Caribbean–Atlantic, as well as the reasons for the species’ subsequent rapid dispersal throughout the region. This work investigates how the effects of climate change — especially ocean acidification and range expansion due to shifting isotherms — amplify the deleterious effects of invasive lionfish. After assessing the immediate and long–term ecological threats presented by the lionfish invasion and their implications on important Caribbean–Atlantic fishing and tourism economies, this work analyzes U.S. federal policy, international law, regional cooperative frameworks, and local initiatives for their efficacy (or lack thereof) in strategically mitigating the effects of this invasion. Ultimately, this paper presents climate change as a phenomenon that will directly problematize current global policy conceptions of and responses to invasive marine species. The lionfish case — a seemingly local issue — is positioned as a learning opportunity for the development of more robust, adaptable marine management frameworks with global utility in an era of climate change.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy & law.