Brandy's Senior Project


Prey Specialization of Enteroctopus dolfeini

The Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest species of octopus. They are a cold water species located along the west coast of the U.S. stretching from Baja, California up to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. This species leaves hard-bodied remains of prey outside their dens, and these middens have been the basis of the most active area of research on these animals – understanding diet through analysis of prey remains.  However, diet selection is less understood than diet composition; the extent to which E. dofleini is a generalist feeder is unknown. Abundances of prey species on rocky intertidal shores in Kasitsna Bay, Alaska will be compared with the abundances of those species in nearby octopus middens to ascertain how far octopuses typically forage from their dens, how selective they are, and whether individual foragers are generalists. The specific questions to be addressed are: 1) Are octopus prey species selected from  within 1m, 5m, and 10m from dens? 2) Which prey species are present in octopus middens? 3) Is E. dofleini a generalist feeder or a specialist feeder? The study will be conducted in August and September of 2010, during the low tides of each month.