Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Free Content Ecology, Paleobiology and Evolutionary Constraint in the Octopus

Download Article:
(PDF 1,068.6 kb)
Packard (1972) proposed that the evolution of the coleoid cephalopods was largely a response to competition and predation from vertebrates in the Mesozoic. While recent paleontological discoveries necessitate modifying this scenario, it remains true that the shell-less condition, streamlined body form, visual acuity, closed circulatory system, and denning, body patterning and other complex behaviors help octopuses avoid their teleostean predators and persist in shallow, nearshore environments. There is currently no experimental evidence that teleost-octopod competition is important in shallow marine communities. However, field studies suggest an inverse relationship between predatory fishes and octopus population density. Where predatory fishes are absent, in a semi-isolated marine lake in the Bahamas, octopuses are two orders of magnitude more abundant than in Caribbean coastal communities. Octopuses are the top carnivores in the lake, where a constraint of morphological and behavioral evolution becomes important: dens are the limiting resource. Living in dens is also an evolutionary imperative in Caribbean coastal communities, but dens are plentiful and predation is limiting. Predation in the geologic past molded morphologies and behaviors well-suited to current, high-predation environments. These features become ecological constraints when the usual limitation of heavy predation pressure is lifted. I suggest using a modified version of Packard's scenario to organize and guide future research on octopus ecology and ethology.
No References for this article.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1991

More about this publication?
  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more