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Fenestration: a window of opportunity for carnivorous plants.

Authors
  • Schaefer, H Martin
  • Ruxton, Graeme D
Type
Published Article
Journal
Biology Letters
Publisher
The Royal Society
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Volume
10
Issue
4
Pages
20140134–20140134
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0134
PMID: 24789140
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

A long-standing but controversial hypothesis assumes that carnivorous plants employ aggressive mimicry to increase their prey capture success. A possible mechanism is that pitcher plants use aggressive mimicry to deceive prey about the location of the pitcher's exit. Specifically, species from unrelated families sport fenestration, i.e. transparent windows on the upper surfaces of pitchers which might function to mimic the exit of the pitcher. This hypothesis has not been evaluated against alternative hypotheses predicting that fenestration functions to attract insects from afar. By manipulating fenestration, we show that it does not increase the number of Drosophila flies or of two ant species entering pitchers in Sarracenia minor nor their retention time or a pitcher's capture success. However, fenestration increased the number of Drosophila flies alighting on the pitcher compared with pitchers of the same plant without fenestration. We thus suggest that fenestration in S. minor is not an example of aggressive mimicry but rather functions in long-range attraction of prey. We highlight the need to evaluate aggressive mimicry relative to alternative concepts of plant-animal communication.

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