The effect of bladderwort (Utricularia) predation on microcrustacean prey

  • Harms S
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Abstract

1. The effects of the carnivorous plant Utricularia ( bladderwort) on its microcrustacean and macroinvertebrate prey were studied under seminatural and natural conditions. The results suggest that Utricularia is a strong interactor in littoral communities that influences its prey populations by direct predation and indirect facilitation. 2. In an 8-week enclosure experiment, effects on prey density were compared in three treatments with (1) U. vulgaris with intact trapbladders, (2) U. vulgaris without bladders and (3) no Utricularia present. 3. Utricularia predation caused a decrease in prey density over time, whereas presence of Utricularia without bladders increased prey density. In the controls without Utricularia , prey density was relatively constant over time. 4. Field samples were collected to quantify predation rates of three Utricularia species on two natural prey populations. Daily consumption rates on prey peaked from mid-July to mid-August for all Utricularia species, but were low in June and September. This pattern was explained mainly by a high number of trapbladders at this time, but also by a slight increase in the number of prey caught per bladder. Per capita prey mortality rates caused by Utricularia were substantial and ranged between 0.14 and 0.43 day(-1) for copepods, 0.1-0.27 day(-1) for ostracods and 0.04-0.2 day(-1) for chydorid cladocerans. 5. Predation and facilitation effects were observed for total prey and separately for epiphytic and benthic prey. Planktonic microcrustaceans showed no response to Utricularia presence.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Carnivorous plants
  • Facilitation
  • Microcrustaceans
  • Predation
  • Utricularia

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Authors

  • Sabine Harms

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