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By utilising targeted microprobe technology, the analysis of elements incorporated within the hard bio-mineralised structures of marine organisms has provided unique insights into the population biology of many species. As hard structures grow, elements from surrounding waters are incorporated effectively providing a natural ‘tag’ that is often unique to the animal’s particular location or habitat. The spatial distribution of elements within octopus stylets was investigated, using the nuclear microprobe, to assess their potential for determining dispersal and population structure in octopus populations. This was investigated in adult Octopus pallidus sourced from a commercial fishery in Tasmania.
A novel method was used to investigate the population structure and dispersal patterns of Octopus maorum, an octopus species with a planktonic larval stage, which forms a distinct and large aggregation in southeast Tasmania. Single and multi-elemental signatures within the ‘early life history’ region of the stylet (an internal ‘shell’) were used to determine levels of connectivity and the common origins of individuals collected from 5 locations across Tasmania, South Australia and New Zealand.
Stylet elemental signatures indicate population structure in a holobenthic octopus species, Octopus pallidus
Targeted trace elemental analysis was used to investigate the population structure and dispersal patterns of the holobenthic octopus species Octopus pallidus. Multi-elemental signatures within the pre-hatch region of the stylet (an internal ‘shell’) were used to determine the common origins and levels of connectivity of individuals collected from 5 locations in Tasmania. To determine whether hatchling elemental signatures could be used as tags for natal origin, hatchling stylets from 3 of the 5 locations were also analysed.