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Carnivory in Pitcher Plants of the Genus Heliamphora (Sarraceniaceae)

Klaus Jaffe, Fabian Michelangeli, Jorge M. Gonzalez, Beatriz Miras and Marie Christine Ruiz
The New Phytologist
Vol. 122, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 733-744
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2557442
Page Count: 12
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Carnivory in Pitcher Plants of the Genus Heliamphora (Sarraceniaceae)
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Abstract

Field studies of Heliamphora nutans Benth., H. heterodoxa Steyerm., H. minor Gleason, H. ionasii maguire and H. tatei Gleason in the Guayana Highlands of Venezuela, show that the last named species is a true carnivore, possessing all of the following traits: attraction of prey through special visual and chemical signals, trapping and killing of prey, digestion of prey through secreted enzymes, presence of commensals, presence of wax scales aiding in the capture of prey, and absorption of nutrients. The other species possess all traits except they seem neither to secrete proteolytic enzymes nor produce wax scales. The pattern of the carnivorous syndrome among Heliamphora species suggests that the carnivorous habit has evolved in nutrient-poor habitats to improve the absorption of nutrients by capturing mainly ants and only H. tatei further evolved mechanisms for rapid assimilation of organic nutrients and for capturing a variety of flying insects. The carnivorous traits are lost in low light conditions, indicating that nutrient supply is limiting only under fast growth.

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