Enlarged Suckers as an Indicator of Male Maturity in Octopus
Inadequate identification of octopus age classes has severely limited field studies of their biology. Four predictions are made to differentiate males at the plateau of growth that precedes senescence, i.e., mature males, from immature males. Compared to immature males, mature males are predicted to be 1) more mobile because their reproductive fitness depends on the number of receptive females they encounter; 2) more often injured, due either to increased mobility or decreased regeneration capacity; 3) more attractive as mates due to their maturity; and 4) mature males, overall, are predicted to be larger due to their advanced age. An intertidal population of Octopus digueti, sampled for 1 year, provided data to test the hypothesis that males with a few conspicuously enlarged suckers represent a mature age class as characterized above. As a group, males of O. digueti with enlarged suckers met these expectations; therefore, the presence of enlarged suckers is concluded to accurately indicate male maturity. I suggest enlarged suckers act as chemoreceptors of chemical cues released by receptive females and thus may contribute directly to male fitness.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 1991
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