Tohoku University

Future Global Leadership Program

Degree Courses Taught in English

20th Sun 17:26:49 UTC    21st Mon 02:26:49 Asia/Tokyo

Dr Ian G. Gleadall

Professor (Applied Marine Biology)
Graduate School of Agricultural Science
Tohoku University Aobayama Campus
Aoba 468-1, Aramaki, Aobayama
Sendai 980-0845


I am a marine biologist with a passion for the life and biology of cephalopods, particularly octopuses (large and small), and their relatives the squids and cuttlefishes. My research has spanned a wide range of studies, including neuroanatomy of the octopus central brain, experiments on the visual system, observations on photophores, the taxonomy and systematics of octopuses (particularly around the Japanese Archipelago), octopus aquaculture and reproduction, and biomimetic applications of cephalopod features.

My recent research demonstrates that the octopuses are evolving rapidly and comprise two major groups: one inhabiting warm, shallow waters of temperate and tropical seas; and the other mostly cold, deeper waters (from below freezing to around 12oC). This research is clarifying the species names of Japanese octopuses (including the giant octopus and its relatives) and involves descriptions of several new species in various parts of the world. My current interests involve some of the smallest octopuses (in the genus Paroctopus), which are warm-water species maturing at a body length of only 1 cm.

A major research theme of mine in recent years has been to demonstrate and emphasize the importance of reference specimens (more correctly called "type specimens") in describing a species or subspecies. This is a basic principal in taxonomy and systematics, but nevertheless the failure to pay attention to these reference specimens remains a common source of confusion in identifying different species. I have established the identity of a large number of "lost" reference specimens in two major museum collections, which are now contributing to clarification of the taxonomy and systematics of the Japanese Cephalopoda.

Identifying species and subspecies accurately is very important in understanding the level of biological diversity (or "biodiversity") in different parts of the World Ocean. Unless we can identify species correctly, we cannot clearly determine those that are in danger of extinction (through the effects of overfishing, for example) and try to do something to reverse the present decline in biodiversity. Declining biodiversity is thought to be strongly linked to a decline in marine food stocks, particularly in the rapidly changing circumstances of global warming.

Since the East Japan Disaster of 11th March, 2011, I have become involved in an academia-to-industry technology transfer project (A-STEP) funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) to develop aquaculture techniques for the East Asian common octopus, Octopus sinensis.

Currently, I am running two experimental aquaculture labs., where my students and I have designed and built several different closed-circulation systems. We have raised 3 different species of octopus in artificial seawater for several months at a time on novel non-living feed. My collaborators and I are also experimenting with crustacean larvae as living feed for paralarval octopus, and assessing various lab. cultures of macroalgae for their suitability in absorbing inorganic products within closed aquarium systems.

Originally from England, I completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield Department of Zoology (now the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences), with field work based at the Marine Zoological Station in Naples, examined by Dr John B. Messenger (until recently in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge University) and the late Emeritus Professor John Z. Young, FRS (University College, London, and Oxford University). I have spent much of my career in Japan because of its remarkably rich cephalopod fauna. While in Japan, I have been based mainly in Sendai at Tohoku University, working in the Graduate School of Medicine (Seiryo Campus), the Research Institute of Electrical Communication (Katahira Campus), the Graduate School of Information Sciences (Aobayama & Katahira Campuses), the Institute of International Education (Kawauchi Campus) and, most recently, the Faculty of Agriculture (Amamiya Campus).



Undergraduate Course

  • Introduction to Physiology and Ecology
    (Year 1; Term 1; Fri. 10:30-12:00)
  • Marine Biology
    (Year 2, Term 1; Thurs. 10:30-12:00)
  • Basics of Specialist Scientific English
    (Year 2, Term 2; Thurs. 16:20-17:50)
  • Physiology of Biological Resources
    (Year 3, Term 1; Thurs. 8:50-10:20)
  • Seafood Management
    (Year 3, Term 2; Tues. 10:30-12:00)

Graduate Course

  • Practical Scientific English
    (Masters, Term 1; Thurs. 16:20-17:50)
  • Fish Wars: Competition Among Cephalopods, Fish & Man
    (Masters, Term 2; Weds. 16:20-17:50 - Team Lecture)

Lectures Off-campus

  • Introduction to Marine Bioresource Production
    (3-day intensive course at Miyagi University; given in Japanese)

Research Projects and Collaborators

Research Projects and Collaborators

Aquaculture of the East Asian common octopus

  • Masumi Abe (Gurumeito Ltd., Ishinomaki)
  • Nobuhiko Akiyama (Tokai University, Shimizu)
  • Keiji Matsubara (Hotland plc Aquaculture Research Centre, Kami-Amakusa, Kyushu)
  • Masazumi Nishikawa (Miyagi University, Sendai)
  • Goh Nishitani (Tohoku University, Sendai)

Octopus Reproduction

  • José Marian (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Jonathan Miller (Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology)
  • with Jessica Gordon & Courtney Timmons

Octopuses off South America

Octopuses of the North Pacific Region*

Long-ligula octopuses of the western North Pacific

Biology and systematics of Paroctopus parvus


Comparison of Octopodids and Enteroctopodids

  • Jonathan Miller (Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology)
  • with Jessica Gordon & Courtney Timmons

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Taxonomy and Systematics



Anaesthetics for Cephalopods

Society Memberships

Society Memberships

Other Activities

Other Activities

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