International Carnivorous Plant Society

Carnivorous Plant Newsletter Archive


On the regulation of dissolved oxygen by Nepenthes pitchers

Kadeem J. Gilbert

Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 49(4):157-165
Published 23 November 2020

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The digestive fluid of tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthaceae: Nepenthes L.) typically harbor communities of symbiotic organisms in nature, an example of a phytotelm ecosystem. While the inhabitants of pitchers (primarily the arthropods) have been described and studied from a community ecology perspective for over a century, many abiotic properties of the fluid environment have not been thoroughly documented. As the abiotic properties of the pitcher fluid micro-environment may have fitness and/or functional consequences on the inhabitants, it is of interest to examine intra and interspecific variation in fluid properties. Here I report observations of dissolved oxygen levels in Nepenthes pitchers. I find evidence that Nepenthes pitchers actively modify dissolved oxygen levels in the fluid and that this oxygenation ability may vary ontogenetically, with relatively hypoxic conditions in newly opened pitchers and high oxygen levels maintained in more mature pitchers.

Keywords: Nepenthes, pitcher plants, dissolved oxygen levels, pitcher fluid regulation, phytotelmata

Article Citation

Kadeem J. Gilbert. 2020. On the regulation of dissolved oxygen by Nepenthes pitchers. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 49(4):157-165.

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