For a school science fair project, Lauren Arrington—a Florida sixth grader—studied lionfish and is now being credited with a scientific breakthrough. The research has changed perspectives on these predatory fish. See excerpts of article by Dianna Smith here and a link to a report by Vicente Arenas below:
When Lauren Arrington launched her sixth-grade science project almost two years ago, her intentions were simply to win. She hoped to make it to the regional fair, maybe place in the top three and make her parents proud. But Lauren, who is now 13 years old, achieved so much more than that. Technically, she made history.
Lauren’s project at The King’s Academy, a private school in West Palm Beach, focused on the invasive predatory lionfish, which basically destroys Florida reefs because they eat large quantities of fish native to the area. Lauren wanted to know if lionfish could survive in freshwater, too, because, if that was the case, the lionfish posed a threat to the estuary in the Loxahatchee River as well. Through long hours of research the Jupiter resident proved that lionfish certainly can live in nearly pure freshwater, which means they are more of a threat than expected. No one knew this before. Not even prestigious Florida scientists who have studied this ecosystem for years.
Her discovery was so incredible that it made its way into an international scientific publication called the Environmental Biology of Fishes that was released online in February. The print version was made available in May and it credits Lauren for the finding. [. . .]
For report by Vicente Arenas, see http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/sixth-grader-credited-with-scientific-breakthrough-on-lionfish/