Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 707–719 | Cite as

Urbanization-related distribution patterns and habitat-use by the marine mesopredator, giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)

  • Eliza C. HeeryEmail author
  • Amy Y. Olsen
  • Blake E. Feist
  • Kenneth P. Sebens


Urbanization is a process that heavily alters marine and terrestrial environments, though terrestrial urban ecosystems have been studied far more intensively. Terrestrial studies suggest that urbanization can facilitate mesopredators by enhancing food and shelter resources and reducing predation pressure from apex consumers. This in turn has considerable consequences for ecological communities. We evaluated spatial distribution patterns and habitat-use of the marine mesopredator, giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), relative to terrestrial urbanization intensity in Puget Sound, Washington, USA. Using field surveys and citizen-contributed data for E. dofleini, we examined whether: (1) Distribution was related to urbanization, (2) Abundance was related to the extent of benthic anthropogenic debris, and (3) Diet differed as a function of urbanization and den cover. Our results suggest that urbanization impacts may differ with depth. Mixed-effects logistic regression model estimates for the probability of occurrence increased with urbanization in deep-water (> 24 m), and decreased with urbanization in shallow water (< 18 m). Accompanying field surveys indicated that E. dofleini abundance was correlated with the number of benthic anthropogenic debris items, and that E. dofleini diets were not affected by urbanization intensity or den cover. Though E. dofleini may be synanthropic within certain urban environments, the mechanisms driving this pattern likely differ from those affecting common urban mesopredators on land, with den provisioning from man-made structures being more important than altered food resources.


Urban ecology Ocean sprawl Citizen science Logistic regression Mixed effects model Rural-urban gradient 



We are grateful to Christy Pattengill-Semmens, the REEF program, and the many divers who made this study possible. Special thanks to Ed Gullekson and Rhoda Green for their invaluable support as advisors and research divers on the project, and to David Thoreson, for building field equipment, captaining, and elevating spirits in the field. We are grateful also to Gregory Jensen for providing guidance on midden identification, and to Megan Dethier, Tim Essington, William King, Jennifer Ruesink, and Stephani Wei for manuscript and/or modeling feedback. NOAA_OI_SST_V2 data was provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their Web site at PDO data were provided by the NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI, Asheville, North Carolina, USA, from their website at Heery was funded by the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program on Ocean Change (NSF 1068839, T. Klinger PI, with K Sebens as co-PI). Financial support for this study was also provided by the Biology Department and the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science at the University of Washington.

Supplementary material

11252_2018_742_MOESM1_ESM.docx (108 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 108 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliza C. Heery
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Amy Y. Olsen
    • 3
  • Blake E. Feist
    • 4
  • Kenneth P. Sebens
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Seattle AquariumSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Conservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries ServiceNOAASeattleUSA
  5. 5.Friday Harbor LaboratoriesUniversity of WashingtonFriday HarborUSA
  6. 6.School of Aquatic and Fisheries ScienceUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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