Role of areoles on prey abundance and diversity in the hooded pitcher plant (Sarracenia minor, Sarraceniaceae)
The hooded pitcher plant, Sarracenia minor, is a carnivorous facultative wetland species native to the southeastern USA and is listed as threatened by the state of Florida. Pitchers of S. minor possess white, semitranslucent spots (areoles), which have been hypothesized to aid in the capture of prey (= visual lures) by increasing the amount of light entering the back of the hood, which persuades insects to enter and fall into the base of the pitcher. In this study, the role of the areoles in prey capture abundance and diversity were experimentally investigated under variable lighting conditions in situ. Plants in two populations experiencing different light intensities, which varied in the amount of canopy cover and incident light reaching the plants, were experimentally manipulated by coloring varying percentages of areoles, ranging from 0 to 100 % (in increments of 25 %), with indelible ink. After 2 months, pitchers were collected and dissected to determine the number and identity of prey captured (approximately 18,000 prey were sampled). Although total prey abundance was approximately five times higher at McGirt’s Creek (sunny site) compared to UNF (shaded site), the effect of areoles on prey capture rates and biodiversity was site dependent. Reducing the number of visual lures of plants at the sunny site produced a significant decrease in the number of prey captured, but prey biodiversity (community composition) was unaffected. However, total prey capture was unaffected at the shaded site, while prey biodiversity was negatively correlated with the percent of areoles colored. Results from the current study suggest that areoles conditionally act as visual lures, but their overall importance is dependent on local environmental variables—especially canopy cover and the amount of incident sunlight reaching the plants.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
McGregor, Moon, D. C., & Rossi, A. M. (2016). Role of areoles on prey abundance and diversity in the hooded pitcher plant (Sarracenia minor, Sarraceniaceae). Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 10(2), 133–141. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11829-016-9419-y