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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#Lionfish: Here’s how “disruptive innovation” works in nature: a killing-machine fish has colonized reefs from Venezuela to Rhode Island – Quartz

In a way, ecosystems are like markets—ones with perfect competition, where the struggle to eat and avoid being eaten long enough to breed is so intense that no market participant can dominate. Evolution, in other word, makes “disruptive innovation” impossible.
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If that sounds a touch apocalyptic, consider the lionfish. Native to Indo-Pacific coral reefs, these venomous creatures have long been admired by aquarium fanatics for their toffee coloring and frilly halo of fins and quills. The global explosion of the aquarium made them common in living room seascapes everywhere. Then in 1985, someone released 10 or so female lionfish in south Florida waters. DNA analysis traces the entire Atlantic population back to those females.
Sometimes this disruption has been so stark that it created a monopoly—placing a species in an ecosystem with plentiful food and no natural predators. Without any competitive threats, the species takes over.
And it’s an extensive lineage. In less than three decades, lionfish have colonized a swath of the Atlantic Ocean that’s roughly the size of the US.
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Here’s how “disruptive innovation” works in nature: a killing-machine fish has colonized reefs from Venezuela to Rhode Island – Quartz




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