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Ellison Abstract- 2009 Bennett and Ellison

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Bennett, K. T., and A. M. Ellison. 2009. Nectar, not colour, may lure insects to their death. Biology Letters 5: 469-472.


We experimentally demonstrate in the field that prey of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea are attracted to sugar, not to color. Prey capture (either all taxa summed or individual common taxa considered separately) was not associated with total red area or patterning on pitchers of living pitcher plants. We separated effects of nectar availability and coloration using painted "pseudopitchers", half of which were coated with sugar solution. Unsugared pseudopitchers captured virtually no prey, whereas pseudopitchers with sugar solution captured the same amount of prey as living pitchers. In contrast to a recent study that associated red coloration with prey capture but that lacked controls for nectar availability, we infer that nectar, not color, is the primary means by which pitcher plants attract prey.

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