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Supplementary data accompanying A. M. Ellison (2006) Nutrient limitation and stoichiometry of carnivorous plants. Plant Biology 8, 740-747.


To compare nutrient content and photosynthetic nutrient use efficiency between carnivorous plants and non-carnivorous plants, I assembled a comprehensive dataset from the literature.

For non-carnivorous plants, I used the Glopnet database of nutrient content and photosynthetic rates. The original dataset was published by Wright et al. (2004) in 2004 in Nature (I. J. Wright et al. [2004] The worldwide leaf economics spectrum. Nature 428, 821-827), and is available as a supplementary file on Nature's web-site. This dataset includes data on leaf N, leaf P, and maximum photosynthetic rate, but does not include data on leaf K. The Glopnet data on leaf K were published by Wright et al. in 2005 in New Phytologist (I. J. Wright et al. [2005] Assessing the generality of global leaf trait relationships. New Phytologist 166, 485-496).

Please contact Ian Wright directly for permission to use the Glopnet data and to obtain the data on K described by Wright et al. (2005).

I also found additional literature data for leaf N, P, and K concentrations that had not been included in the Glopnet dataset. These additional data include leaf nutrient concentrations for a variety of carnivorous plants as well as for a number of non-carnivorous plants, and can be retrieved by clicking on these hyper-links:

Data file description

The data file is comma-delimited ASCII text. The file is approximately 11 kBytes in size, and consists of 170 rows and 9 columns; the first row contains variable names (column titles):

Family: Plant family
Genus: Plant genus
Species: Plant species
Lifeform: T - tree; S - shrub; H - herb; G - grass; F - fern; H-C - carnivorous (herb)
treetype: E - evergreen; D - deciduous (applies to Trees and Shrubs only; all others are blank)
pctN: mass-based leaf-Nitrogen content
pctP: mass-based leaf-Phosphorus content
pctK: mass-based leaf-Potassium content
Source: Publication from which data were obtained. See References.

Data (.csv)


Adamec, L. (1997) Mineral nutrition of carnivorous plants: a review. Botanical Review 63, 273-299.

Chandler, G. E. and Anderson, J. W. (1976) Studies on the nutrition and growth of Drosera species with reference to the carnivorous habit. New Phytologist 76, 129-141.

Chapin, C. T. and Pastor, J. (1995) Nutrient limitation in the northern pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea. Canadian Journal of Botany 73, 728-734.

Christensen, N. L. (1976) The role of carnivory in Sarracenia flava L. with regard to specific nutrient deficiencies. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 92, 144-147.

Ellison, A. M. and Farnsworth, E. J. (2005) The cost of carnivory for Darlingtonia californica (Sarraceniaceae): evidence from relationships among leaf traits. American Journal of Botany 92, 1085-1093.

Foulds, W. (1993) Nutrient concentrations of foliage and soil in south-western Australia. New Phytologist 125, 529-546.

Garten, C. T., Jr. (1978) Multivariate perspectives on the ecology of plant mineral element composition. American Naturalist 112, 533-544.

Kaminski, R. (1987) Studies on the ecology of Aldrovanda vesiculosa L. I. Ecological differentiation of A. vesiculosa population under the influence of chemical factors in the habitat. Ekologia Polska 35, 559-590.

Karlsson, P. S. and Pate, J. S. (1992) Contrasting effects of supplementary feeding of insects or mineral nutrients on the growth and nitrogen and phosphorus economy of pygmy species of Drosera. Oecologia 92, 8-13.

Likens, G. E. and Bormann, F. H. (1970) Chemical analyses of plant tissues from the Hubbard Brook ecosystem in New Hampshire. Bulletin of the Yale University School of Forestry 79, 1-25.

Siccama, T. G., Bormann, F. H., and Likens, G. E. (1970) The Hubbard Brook ecosystem study: productivity, nutrients, and phytosociology of the herbaceous layer. Ecological Monographs 40, 389-402.

Stewart, C. N. and Nilsen, E. T. (1992) Drosera rotundifolia growth and nutrition in a natural population with special reference to the significance of insectivory. Canadian Journal of Botany 70, 1409-1416.

Thompson, K., Parkinson, J. A., Band, S. R., and Spencer, R. E. (1997) A comparative study of leaf nutrient concentrations in a regional herbaceous flora. New Phytologist 136, 679-689.

Thorén, L. M. and Karlsson, P. S. (1998) Effects of supplementary feeding on growth and reproduction of three carnivorous plant species in a subarctic environment. Journal of Ecology 86, 501-510.

Wakefield, A. E., Gotelli, N. J., Wittman, S. E., and Ellison, A. M. (2005) The effect of prey addition on nutrient stoichiometry, nutrient limitation, and morphology of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea (Sarraceniaceae). Ecology 86, 1737-1743.

Watson, A. P., Matthiessen, J. N., and Springett, B. P. (1982) Arthropod associates and macronutrient status of the red-ink sundew (Drosera erythrorhiza Lindl.). Australian Journal of Ecology 7, 13-22.

Woodwell, G. M., Whittaker, R. H., and Houghton, R. A. (1975) Nutrient concentrations in plants in the Brookhaven oak-pine forest. Ecology 56: 318-332. 

These data were assembled with support from research grant 02-35128 from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

If you use these data in any publication or presentation, please let me know. Please respect the effort and intellectual contributions of the original authors who collected these data and my efforts to track them down and collate them. Cite the original sources and this compilation in any publications or presentations resulting from the use of these data.

Thank you.