Skip to main content


Log in

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

Urban Ecosystems Aims and scope Submit manuscript


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


Download references


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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eliza C. Heery.

Electronic supplementary material


(DOCX 108 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Heery, E.C., Olsen, A.Y., Feist, B.E. et al. Urbanization-related distribution patterns and habitat-use by the marine mesopredator, giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini). Urban Ecosyst 21, 707–719 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: