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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 717:67-83 (2023)  -  DOI:

Stomach content characterisation of the marine range-shifting Octopus tetricus using DNA metabarcoding

Jorge E. Ramos1,6,*, Álvaro Roura2,7, Jan M. Strugnell2,8, Natalie A. Moltschaniwskyj3,4, Rafael Bargiela5, Gretta T. Pecl1

1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
2Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, School of Life Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria 3086, Australia
3New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, Nelson Bay, New South Wales 2315, Australia
4School of Environmental and Life Sciences, College of Engineering, Science and Environment, University of Newcastle, New South Wales 2000, Australia
5School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2DG, UK
6Present address: Falkland Islands Fisheries Department, Directorate of Natural Resources, Stanley FIQQ 1ZZ, Falkland Islands
7Present address: Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (IIM-CSIC), Vigo 36208, Spain
8Present address: Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The common Sydney octopus Octopus tetricus has undergone range extension along the east coast of Australia, associated with regional warming and the strengthening and southward extension of the East Australian Current (EAC). Its historical range of distribution is from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales, but it is now also found off north-east Tasmania, where it may affect local ecosystem dynamics due to changes in trophic interactions. This study aims to identify the prey and trophic level of O. tetricus from specimens collected off Tasmania to anticipate potential ecological, economic, and conservation effects in the range-extended area. The stomach contents of 18 O. tetricus individuals captured off north-east Tasmania in 2011 were characterised using DNA metabarcoding. Sixteen families of prey were identified; crustaceans (Alpheidae, Calcinidae, Diogenidae, and Galatheidae) were the most frequently detected prey, followed by fishes and bivalves. Prey species of commercial importance included blue-throated wrasse Notolabrus tetricus and the scallop Pecten fumatus. O. tetricus was found to have an intermediate trophic level of 3.66, participating in the transfer of energy from lower to upper trophic levels. Predation by O. tetricus could present competition to local fishers for resources and additional pressure on local fishery stocks, and may alter estimates of natural mortality used by fisheries management. The present study may be useful to scientists, fishery managers, and conservationists because it provides a preliminary assessment of the diet of O. tetricus, with potential ecological, economic, and conservation implications in the range-extended area.

KEY WORDS: Molecular prey identification · Diet · Trophic level · Common Sydney octopus · Gloomy octopus · Range extension · East Australian Current

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Cite this article as: Ramos JE, Roura Á, Strugnell JM, Moltschaniwskyj NA, Bargiela R, Pecl GT (2023) Stomach content characterisation of the marine range-shifting Octopus tetricus using DNA metabarcoding. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 717:67-83.

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