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Pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea L., as an ecosystem Laird, Deborah Diemand

Abstract

The microecosystems in the leaves of the pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, were studied over a thirty day period. These plants were kept out of doors. One of these plants was later brought into the laboratory and four leaves were studied concurrently with four tubes. These studies were intended to show differences, if any, between leaves studied in the field and those in the laboratory, and between the leaves and an artificial environment. Organisms in all of these vessels were counted and their total biomass and oxygen consumption graphed. Three of the larger organisms found were typical of this species of pitcher plant, one through its entire life cycle and the other two for their larval stages. An interesting finding was that the alga, Microthamnion, seems to inhibit the growth of Tetrahymena, probably due to some extrametabolite. Paramecium was apparently excluded from all leaves in the field. The leaves of the pitcher plant were found to be ideal for the field and laboratory investigation of ecological forces due to their natural occurrance, small size, and rapid turnover of organisms.

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