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Behavior and Benthic Ecology Lab

Curious about the world’s largest octopus species? So are we!

Field-oriented ecologist David Scheel combines his interest in remote places, marine biology and animal behavior by overseeing APU’s Behavior and Benthic Ecology Lab and its research on the giant Pacific octopus, the world’s largest octopus species.

Giant Pacific octopus have charisma – most people are fascinated by a sea creature that weighs 30 pounds or more and may possess arm spans of 30 feet. The Alaska Octopus Project, housed within the Behavior and Benthic Ecology lab, studies the giant Pacific octopus as a model marine invertebrate for behaviors most often understood in a vertebrate or terrestrial context.

Recent research questions addressed by the Alaska Octopus Project have focused on how behavioral processes interact with community ecology, population genetics and fisheries.

Operating from vessel charters and collaborating with commercial fishing vessels and other researchers, the Benthic and Behavioral Ecology lab investigates the population structure of octopuses around the Pacific Rim using genetic techniques. Results have implications for fisheries harvest and by-catch management. Graduate student training as teaching and research assistants is supported by Behavior and Benthic Ecology Lab.

The lab investigates basic and applied questions about marine organism behavior as well as effects of behavior on ecology, populations and communities on the sea floor.