Carnivorous plants: Mass march of termites into the deadly trap

  title={Carnivorous plants: Mass march of termites into the deadly trap},
  author={Marlis A. Merbach and Dennis J. Merbach and Ulrich Maschwitz and Webber E. Booth and Brigitte Fiala and Georg Zizka},
Carnivorous pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes are not usually very selective about their prey, catching anything that is careless enough to walk on their slippery peristome, but Nepenthes albomarginata is an exception. We show here that this plant uses a fringe of edible white hairs to lure and then trap its prey, which consists exclusively of termites in enormous numbers. This singular feature accounts for the specialization of N. albomarginata for one prey taxon, unique so far among… 
The carnivorous syndrome in Nepenthes pitcher plants
This work has shown that several Nepenthes species target specific groups of prey animals, or are even evolving away from a strictly carnivorous mode of operation.
Nectar, not colour, may lure insects to their death
It is experimentally demonstrated in the field that prey of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea are attracted to sugar, not to colour, which implies that nectar, not colour, is the primary means by which pitcher plants attract prey.
Flower‐scent mimicry masks a deadly trap in the carnivorous plant Nepenthes rafflesiana
The hypotheses that odours are effective cues for prey attraction in this carnivorous plant and that upper pitchers biochemically mimic flowers in their olfactory cues are tested.
Form follows function: morphological diversification and alternative trapping strategies in carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plants
It is shown that Nepenthes pitcher plants have evolved specific adaptations for the use of either one of two distinct trapping mechanisms: slippery wax crystals on the inner pitcher wall and ‘insect aquaplaning’ on the wet upper rim (peristome).
Slippery or sticky? Functional diversity in the trapping strategy of Nepenthes carnivorous plants.
Investigating whether Nepenthes species exhibit diverse trapping strategies and measuring the amount of slippery wax on the pitcher walls of 23 taxa and the viscoelasticity of their digestive liquid and compared their retention efficiency on ants and flies suggested the possibility of an investment trade-off for the plants.
The plant-ant Camponotus schmitzi helps its carnivorous host-plant Nepenthes bicalcarata to catch its prey
A positive effect of C. schmitzi on both prey intake and breakdown is suggested, suggesting this ant–plant interaction could be a nutritional mutualism involving the unusual association of carnivory and myrmecotrophy.
Incorporating ecological context: a revised protocol for the preservation of Nepenthes pitcher plant specimens (Nepenthaceae).
The value of ecological information in distinguishing between controversial montane Bornean taxa is demonstrated and a revised protocol for the collection and preparation of Nepenthes specimens is provided, designed to maximise the amount of ecologicalInformation retained in herbarium material.
Adaptive radiation with regard to nutrient sequestration strategies in the carnivorous plants of the genus Nepenthes
It is shown that the plant benefits from nitrogen uptake by increased rate of photosynthesis and growth what may provide competitive advantage over others co-habiting plants and a possible impact of such specialization toward hybridization, an important mechanism in speciation is discussed.
Tree shrew lavatories: a novel nitrogen sequestration strategy in a tropical pitcher plant
It is tested the hypothesis that tree shrew faeces represent a significant nitrogen (N) source for N. lowii, finding that it accounts for between 57 and 100 per cent of foliar N in mature N.Lowii plants.
Pitchers of Nepenthes rajah collect faecal droppings from both diurnal and nocturnal small mammals and emit fruity odour
The findings suggest that the N. rajah pitcher makes use of the perceptual biases of rats and tree shrews by emitting volatiles known from fruits, which contribute to the profits that the plant obtains from the repeated visits of two small mammals, together with the provision of exudates for the mammals.


Diet and nest material of the processional termite Hospitalitermes, and cohabitation of Termes (Isoptera, Termitidae) on Borneo Island
The chemical composition (CHN ratio, amino acid composition and ash content) of food balls which the workers carry back from foraging sites to the nest suggest that the food balls are an important dietary source of nitrogen in this genus.
Pitcher Dimorphism, Prey Composition and the Mechanisms of Prey Attraction in the Pitcher Plant Nepenthes Rafflesiana in Borneo
The combination of visual and olfactory cues accounted for the greater prey attraction of upper over lower pitchers and may reduce the amount of prey caught, thus preventing overloading and consequent putrefaction of the contents, and death of the pitchers.
Inter- and intra-specific variation in prey assemblages and inhabitant communities in Nepenthes pitchers in Sumatra
Prey assemblages and inhabitant communities in pitchers were compared among 10 Nepenthes Linnaeus 1753 species with various pitcher morphologies in West Sumatra, Indonesia. There were significant
Aspects of pitcher morphology and spectral characteristics of six Bornean Nepenthes pitcher plant species: implications for prey capture
Based on the morphological and reflectance analyses, it is hypothesized that pitchers of N. rafflesian would be more attractive to anthophilous (flower-visiting) invertebrates than the sympatric N. gracilis, suggesting possible interspecific resource partitioning.
Nepenthes of Borneo (Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
  • 1997