Contrasting Activity Patterns of Two Related Octopus Species, Octopus macropus and Octopus vulgaris

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Octopus macropus and Octopus vulgaris have overlapping habitats and are exposed to similar temporal changes. Whereas the former species is described as nocturnal in the field, there are conflicting reports about the activity time of the latter one. To compare activity patterns, the authors tested both species in the laboratory. Octopuses were exposed to a light– dark cycle and held under constant dim light for 7 days each. O. macropus showed nocturnal and light-cued activity. According to casual observations, O. vulgaris started out nocturnal but had switched to mostly diurnal when the experiment began. Individual variation of its activity was found. The different activity patterns of O. macropus and O. vulgaris might reflect their lifestyles, the latter species being more generalist.