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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 371:199-202 (2008)  -  DOI:

Octopus vulgaris in the Caribbean is a specializing generalist

Roland C. Anderson1,*, James B. Wood2, Jennifer A. Mather3

1The Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington 98101, USA
2Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, 17 Biological Lane, Ferry Reach, St. George’s GE 01, Bermuda
3Psychology Department, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4, Canada

ABSTRACT: The diet of Octopus vulgaris was determined from the remains of 649 prey items gathered from the middens of 38 dens in a small area off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. Remains of 35 species of gastropod (19% of the total), 19 bivalves (51%) and 21 crustaceans (30%) were identified and examined for mode of entry into hard-shelled prey. Although 60% of the gastropods were drilled, neither the size/weight ratio nor the presence of an operculum determined whether drilling occurred. There were strong differences in prey preference among individual octopuses, and the Cardona niche breadth index (B’) of the midden items was 0.08, indicative of specialization. Examples include the exclusive preference for Pinna carnea by one den occupant. This study, by focusing on assessment of preference at specific den locations, is the first to show that while the population had a wide choice of prey items, the individual choices were much narrower, indicating that octopuses were specializing generalists.

KEY WORDS: Octopus vulgaris · Octopus · Diet · Middens · Specializing generalist

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Cite this article as: Anderson RC, Wood JB, Mather JA (2008) Octopus vulgaris in the Caribbean is a specializing generalist. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 371:199-202.

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