, Volume 730, Issue 1, pp 113–125 | Cite as

Contrasting macroscopic maturity staging with histological characteristics of the gonads in female Octopus vulgaris

  • Pilar Sieiro
  • Jaime Otero
  • Ángel Guerra
Primary Research Paper


We contrasted histological characteristics with a macroscopic maturity scale in Octopus vulgaris. Seven histological stages of maturation were identified, and a stereological method was used to develop a new histological maturity index (HMI). This index was related to the gonadosomatic index giving the possibility to estimate the histological stage of individual octopus without sampling the gonads. However, the existing macroscopic maturity scale produced some degree of overlap along the range of HMI, suggesting that this macroscale at this moment might be just good enough to separate immature from fully mature individuals. A histological maturity criterion based on the presence of a larger proportion of folding oocytes compared to earlier microstages resulted in a size at maturity of 1.5 kg. However, using two different macroscopic criteria, size at maturity was 1.3 and 2.3 kg. The estimate of size at maturity is therefore sensitive to the maturity criteria used. The maturation cycle of female O. vulgaris was seasonal, peaking in spring months and reaching a maximum of reproductive activity in April independently of the maturation criteria used. Oogenesis was reviewed and found to be an asynchronic process. Our results suggest that there is a need to examine all these issues in other cephalopod species.


Reproduction Maturation Oogenesis Histology Size-at-maturity Octopus vulgaris 



We thank the “Asociación de Naseiros de Meira” for providing the majority of the octopus individuals, and Jose Manuel Antonio, Manuel. E. Garci, and María Teresa Fernández for their help in processing the samples. The Fisheries Group (CSIC) allowed us to use their image analyzer, and Alex Alonso in particular provided valuable support in the use of the stereological method and helpful suggestions during the manuscript preparation. This work was funded by the Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología (CICYT, Spain) (Project VEM 2003–2010). P. Sieiro was supported by a fellowship of Departamento de Postgrado y Especialización (CSIC), and J. Otero was supported by a “Junta para la Ampliación de Estudios” Fellowship (JAE-Doc programme 2011) from the CSIC and ESF. We also acknowledge the input of four anonymous reviewers that greatly improved the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro Tecnológico del Mar, Fundación CETMARVigoSpain
  2. 2.CSIC Instituto de Investigaciones MarinasVigoSpain

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