Individual prey choices of octopuses: are they generalist or specialist?

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Mather, Jennifer A.
Leite, Tatiana S.
Batista, Allan T.
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Oxford University Press
Prey choice is often evaluated at the species or population level. Here, we analyzed the diet of octopuses of different populations with the aim to assess the importance of individual feeding habits as a factor affecting prey choice. Two methods were used, an assessment of the extent to which an individual octopus made choices of species representative of those population (PSi and IS) and 25% cutoff values for number of choices and percentage intake of individual on their prey. In one population of Octopus cf vulgaris in Bermuda individuals were generalist by IS=0.77, but most chose many prey of the same species, and were specialists on it by >75% intake. Another population had a wider prey selection, still generalist with PSi=0.66, but two individuals specialized by choices. In Bonaire, there was a wide range of prey species chosen, and the population was specialists by IS= 0.42. Individual choices revealed seven specialists and four generalists. A population of Octopus cyanea in Hawaii all had similar choices of crustaceans, so the population was generalist by IS with 0.74. But by individual choices, three were considered a specialist. A population of Enteroctopus dofleini from Puget Sound had a wide range of preferences, in which seven were also specialists, IS=0.53. By individual choices, thirteen were also specialists. Given the octopus specialty of learning during foraging, we hypothesize that both localized prey availability and individual personality differences could influence the exploration for prey and this translates into different prey choices across individuals and populations showed in this study
Sherpa Romeo green journal. Open access article
Octopuses , Prey choice , Specialist , Generalist , Prey preference
Mather, J. A., Leite, T. S., & Batista, A. T. (2012). Individual prey choices of octopuses: Are they generalist or specialist? Current Zoology, 58(4), 597-603.