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Thread: Carnivory...what IS it?

  1. #1
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    OK...having just enjoyed a romp through the lively discussion (with a little game playing thrown in) going on over in the Quasi-Carn forum...I have a coupla questions.

    Bear in mind I haven't read every CP book published nor am I a botanist, scientist, researcher or plant expert. So...I'm just asking...

    What DOES determine a plant to be defined as "carnivorous"?

    I read the "six qualifications" as being: 1) Attract 2) Retain 3) Trap 4) Kill 5) Digest 4) Absorb (ok...WHO came up with that criteria??)

    Question 1: Is there any significant differenct between "retain" and "trap"...isn't that basically the same thing (even though it may be achieved in different ways...i.e....dew vs. flytrap)?

    Question 2: Is there any significant difference between "digest" and "absorb"? In both cases there is some type of breaking down of the prey into nutrients which will then be used to the benefit of the plant.

    Seems to me its only 4 criteria...Attract, Retain, Kill, Absorb. Ok, so I'm a simpleton. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

    Question 3: What difference does it make if a plant uses an enzyme or bacteria to break down the prey...isn't the pertinent isse that it takes a separate living creature, ensnares it and breaks it down (whether by enzyme or bacteria) into useable nutrients?

    Question 4: Because one plant may have more/stronger enzymes than another...does that make one plant more or less "carnivorous" than another one? Aren't both AS carnivorous because they are achieving the same end result regardlessof "strength" of enzyme?

    Thoughts anyone?

    Suzanne
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    PlantAKiss, I am not really sure where this is going, but OK.

    Answer #1: Yes, there is a big difference between trap and retain. The plant has to catch or "trap" an insect and then it has to hold it or "retain" it. If it gets away then what is the point of trapping it.

    Answer #2: Yes, there is a big difference between digest and absorb. The plant has to break down its prey into simplier components or "digest" before it can take in and use those components or "absorb" it.

    Answere #3: If the criteria is to digest its prey then the plant doesn't accomplish this if it has bacteria to break down its prey for it? So bacteria does make a difference in the definition of carnivory.

    Answer #4: Carnivory is not relative. It only describes certain plants that have an amazing habit not to seperate carnivorous plants as more or less carnivorous, but to classify them as a whole. Now not to say that enzyme strength isn't important . Enzyme strength determines how fast a plant can digest its prey not including the other abilities such as being a good traper, or unescapable traping mechanism which none alone can determine a more evolved carnivore.

    Hope this helps.

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    Question

    Now you have gotten me interested in the subject. BTW where did you read the criteria for carnivory. I would like to look into this in more detail. Thanks.

    P.S. Very interesting nice post, got me thinking. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

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    fatboy's Avatar
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    Don't know if I agree with you on point # 3 (may or may not agree on the other points either but I haven't thought about them too much yet [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img] )

    If you take a termite as an example, they eat wood but are not physically capable of digesting cellulose. They cultivate bacteria in their guts that do the job and they absorb the byproducts of the bacteria.
    I have never heard an argument against the statement that termites eat wood.

    A similarly confused fatboy?

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    Fatboy if you are going that way, all of us depend on bateria to break down some food. I can not think of one animal that would live without the little things in their stomach. Its just that some plants may rely on bacteria completely. Also "EAT" isnt the best word you could of use, for it means to swallow for nourishment, or to partake in food. I enjoyed your example with the termite. I knew this fact already, but i hadn't thought of it that way. I didn't know your knowledgable in such subjects. Do you know about a beavers eating habits. Its bacteria can't break down food on the first run. And it doesn't get a much if all of its food absorbed the first time around. It still eates though digestion is a bit fuzzier. If you know what I am talking about then I am very impressed. If not ask me some other time. It is kinda sick. LOL.

    Hope to discuss this farthur when you can think on it more. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

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    fatboy's Avatar
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    Going back to my termite example and what you have just said

    Quote
    Its just that some plants may rely on bacteria completely.[/QUOTE]

    Termites do exactly that, they ONLY consume wood and therefore rely completely on the action of the bacteria to process the cellulose and provide them with byproduct and not just as a supplementary source of nutrients.

    Given the above it should be fair to say that termites consume (eat?) wood and survive solely on the action of bacteria to digest it. Is it not also then fair to say that a plant that rely's completely on bacteria to obtain nutrients from insects can still be considered to digest the insect?

    I don't pretend to know much about any of this but what I have said above seems reasonable to me.

    Cheers, Troy.

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    mm tasty beaver dung [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]

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    It's been one of dem days BigCarnivourKid's Avatar
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    Not much into farm animals but I seem to recall something about cows useing bacteria to break down plant cellulose into something more digestable.
    ---Steve Allinger---

    How come chicken fingers are bigger than buffalo wings?

    My Grow List

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