Ian Gleadall

Research Themes, Contact, Glossary
ActivitiesResearch activities HatcheryFacility to hold
brooding female octopuses
Wet Lab.Raising various juvenile animals Crab Lab.Raising crabs to feed octopuses AnimalsThe animals we work with PeopleWho contributes?
What do they do?
About Ian Lectures Projects & Collaborators Selected Publications Organizing, etc. Memberships / Other
Image of Ian in the Falklands

Ian Gleadall

Professor of Applied Marine Biology
International Fisheries Science Unit / Trans-Faculty Erudition Unit
Graduate School of Agricultural Science
Tohoku University Aobayama Campus
Sendai 980-0845

(More contact details here)

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Career and Interests

With broad experience of living and travelling within Japan, and a career spent mostly in the Japanese university system, I have good knowledge and experience of Japanese education and administration at both private and national institutions. In addition (as well as visits abroad to present at conferences), I have visited many countries on visits for recruiting high-school students, and also in connection with mariculture business, so I have reasonable familiarity with other institutions and businesses with which universities must interact. My long experience of working here in Japan has made it a necessity for me to function in Japanese as well as in Engish. My extracurricular activities include being a Warden for the British Embassy in Tokyo and a member of two NPO groups.

In terms of research, I am a marine biologist specializing in the life and biology of octopuses, large and small, along with their relatives, the squids and cuttlefishes. My research has included a number of different topics, including: aquaculture; neuroanatomy of the central brain; experiments on the visual system; observations and experiments on photophores; and the taxonomy and systematics of cephalopods, particularly octopuses, occurring in the seas of the Japanese Archipelago and elsewhere.

Links: a selection of publications on this research; more about my aquaculture research.

Downloads (PDF): (1) My CV (full version, with publications); (2) 履歴書・業績 (1ページ バージョン); (3) 履歴書・業績 (フルバージョン); (4) 学会発表と学術論文のリスト (一つずつの日本語要約); or (5) list of publications.

Taxonomy and Systematics

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.

My recent research demonstrates that octopuses are evolving rapidly. Those with two columns of suckers along each arm 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 interests also 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 emphasize the importance of “type specimens” in describing a species or subspecies. This is a basic principal in taxonomy and systematics, because each type specimen is the official holder of the scientific name coined to describe it and it is the reference specimen against which other specimens can be identified as the same or a different species. Failure to use these reference specimens to confirm species identifications remains a common source of confusion in identifying closely related species of many organisms. For cephalopod molluscs, I have established the identity of a large number of “lost” type specimens in several museum collections around the world (including two major collections in Japan), and these are now contributing to clarification of the taxonomy and systematics of the Japanese Cephalopoda.


Originally from England, I completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield Department of Zoology (now the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences), based mainly on experimental research undertaken at the Stazione Zoologica (Marine Zoological Station) in Naples, Italy, examined by Dr John B. Messenger (Department of Zoology at the University of Sheffield and 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, taking advantage of its remarkably diverse cephalopod fauna. While in Japan, I have worked at research and teaching institutions in Aichi, Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures. Most of my career has been spent in northeastern Japan based in Sendai, Miyagi Pref., at Tohoku University (one of Japan’s designated top three national universities), working in the Graduate School of Medicine, the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, the Graduate School of Information Sciences, the Institute of International Education, the Faculty of Agriculture and, most recently, the Graduate School of Agricultural Science.


For Undergraduates (at Tohoku University)

For Graduates (at Tohoku University)

For students visiting Tohoku University Asamushi Research Center for Marine Biology (Asamushi, Aomori Pref.)

For Undergraduates at Miyagi Unversity (Faculty of Food Business)

Research Projects and Collaborators

Selected Publications

Humane Treatment, Anaesthesia, Welfare and Life of Octopuses & Squids



Taxonomy and Systematics

Organizational work: conference, workshop & editorial responsibilities

*CIAC = Cephalopod International Advisory Council (an international committee which ratifies and oversees conferences on cephalopods, particularly a large international conference held every three years, each time in a different country: CIAC 2012 was held in Florianópolis, Brazil; CIAC 2015 in Hakodate, Japan; CIAC 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.A.)

Society Memberships

Other Activities

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