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Briareus vs. vulgaris


Sep 25, 2006
Bimacs have been hard to come by so I'm going to be using some Caribbean or Atlantic species for my research on observational learning in octopus. Since some of the work is going to involve jar opening, I'd rather get some guys that are large enough to manipulate the jar (10 oz bell jar), so dwarfs won't do.

I am considering vulgaris or briareus, and would like to know which of the two would be better for working with in a 73 degree F lab, daytime experiments, feeding frozen shrimp and fiddler crabs (the reward food). Other types of foods are fine, as long as I can get them here in Louisville, KY. I would appreciate anyone's thoughts or advice.

I have successfully worked with bimacs, vulgaris (in the past), and mercatoris but have only received DOAs of the briareus and vulgaris lately, so I'm looking to fine tune my process.
Hi dheml,

I think you would do better with vulgaris if you have the space for it (and since Fiorito and co used vulgaris), but others might give you better advice.

I did have a thought about Jar opening and observational learning (although I suspect you have it covered) - from Mather and Anderson's papers (and a couple of conversations with J.M.) I am under the impression that jar opening, being performed beneath the web, is independent of visual feedback post-fixation on the crab (or whatever else) in the jar. I recall that she had as much success teaching them to open an empty jar as a filled one, as long as both smelled of fish. I am not sure how this would go with observational learning, except perhaps serving to familiarise your observer with the orientation and seizing part of the opening sequence, since the observer would probably also have limited sight of the opening. I recall Hanlon and several others showed that familiarisation via the observer being allowed to look at the jar alone improved performance on opening (I cannot recall the particulars, sorry!).

Anyway, it sounds like an interesting direction for behavioural studies. Good luck with it!

I'll just say :welcome: to TONMO, since I'm not aware of much data on using briareus in learning experiments... it sounds interesting, though-- please let us know what you decide and how it turns out...

Now that Robyn's published her thesis, maybe we'll get to hear her results, too (nudge,nudge).

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