MBL Senior Scientist Roger Hanlon is senior author on this new study.
Newswise — There are more than 300 species of octopus living in diverse habitats that span coral reefs, seagrass beds, sand plains and polar ice regions where they feed on lower trophic levels. Most famous for having eight arms (octopus comes from the Greek, octópus, which means “eight foot”), the behavioral ecology of these mysterious sea creatures, especially octopuses that share habitats, is important for understanding the role they play in community structure and biodiversity of an ecosystem. Coexistence has been well studied in many species, but seldom in cephalopods like octopuses.
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University in collaboration with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, conducted the first in situ, long-term (three years, 371 SCUBA dive hours) study in a South Florida lagoon on two species of octopus. The aim of the study was to explore how Octopus vulgaris (common octopus), a medium-sized octopus that is widely distributed in tropical and temperate seas worldwide and Macrotritopus defilippi (Atlantic longarm octopus), a small species of octopus found in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and in the Caribbean, coexist by examining their foraging habits and tactics, diet, behaviors and when they are active or inactive.
Rigorous fieldwork from the study included direct observations via SCUBA diving combined with active and remote video recordings. What the researchers discovered, published in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, is that very different behaviors and habits in these two species of octopus is exactly how these species coexist in a shallow Florida lagoon- even at high densities. Read more …
This Newswise press release is from Florida Atlantic University.
Video credit: Chelsea O. Bennice
Photo: Macrotritopus defilippi (Atlantic longarm octopus). Credit: Chelsea O. Bennice