I am writing a research about Sarraceniae and their prey. My hypotheses were that green plants catch different insects than red or yellow ones and particularly that red plants are more successful than green plants. I compared the prey caught during this summer of several Sarracenia species, mainly variants of S. flava. I slashed the tubes (always at least two tubes of one species) and analysed the prey. The interval between the measuring was around two weeks.
The identification of the insects was really tricky because the prey was often already digested and not anymore distinguishable. Furthermore the larvae that were born in the tubes eat the prey through and the only thing that was left, was the chitinous exoskeleton, which bursted into many pieces when I tried to move it out of the tube to have a better look at it. A precise identification up to the species was absolutely impossible. I remained mostly on the family level and distinguished between:
Not very detailed and I've surely made some mistakes when I was identifying the mush of prey but here I want to point out, that this is not a dissertation. I graduate highschool with this "final project" together with other exams to get my general qualification for university entrance. I am Swiss, so I am writing my research in german and it would take a long time to translate it in english. And my english is not as adequate as it should be to write a complete research in english. And maby the results are not accurate enough to pubish my research. Perhaps I will publish my work in the GFP journal and possibly, if I have the time, I will write an abstract in english. It is said that for this work students spend about 90 to 150 hours.
Back to the hypothesis. I assumed that S. purpurea catches many more Insects than S. purpurea ssp. purpurea f. heterophylla. Red is more eye-catching and I have rarely seen a green flower. But the truth is the quite contrary to my hypothesis...
It is in German but i think you can see the important things. The Y-axis is the number of caught insects of one tube on avarge and the different insects are on the X-axis:
My hypothesis about the number of caught insects is disaproved. At least with the look at S. purpurea ssp. purpurea and the green/yellow forma heterophylla.
So I tried to find out the reason for this results.
I came across this thread. Phil's answer (post number 10) is really interesting. He said that there are places where the heterophylla form is more common than the normal form.
The point is:
The gene for the encoding of the enzym which is responsible for the synthesis of anthocyanine is recessive and that means that S. purpurea ssp. purpurea heterophylla should be rarer then the normal form UNLESS the mutation is adaptiv and causes an evolutionary advantage. For example insects prefer green/yellow plants to red ones.
It is proved that yellow is a colour which reflects uv-light much better than other colours. The colour perception of insects is a bit shifted into the uv-range. And that is what my research shows: Heterophylla catches more insects than the red plant. Therefore it has acces to more nutrients, grows faster and flowers oftener. Means that there is a positive influence on the reproduction rate even when both parents need to have at least one faulty gene that the offsping is green. So the faulty gene is recessive but nevertheless the plant becomes more end more predominant in the habitat.
I think I could have found the evolutionary reason why my hypothesis was disproved and this would be a great result.
What do you think about my thoughts? I would be pleased to recieve some answers from you.
What I need now is a picture of the habitat that shows many heterophyllas and a few red plants dotted among them. Are there any other field reports about the situation of S. purpurea ssp. purpurea f. heterophylla?
Here some pics I took while I was working:
This is what I found in S. flava var. ornata
And here S. purpurea ssp. purpurea next to the anthocyanine-free plant:
Look at this vast number of prey:
But very often it looked like this; A brown and stinky mush of insects:
The white thing is the separation of the prey which was got during the last two weeks and the other insects beneath are older.