|but remember if Lowii is evolving to just catch poo and nothing else,[/QUOTE]|
you have to prove this first! And only then the rest of your logic might be valid. I have to agree with Troy that a field study would yield scientific valuable results.
Yes Joachim, everything mentioned here is still a hypothesis. But I am not convinced that by finding poo in Lowii's pitcher means that this is its preferred food. Perhaps it is the most common, but it may not be the ideal diet.
It happens to humans too!. If you go to a different country and you start consuming the local food, does not mean it is your preferred food, just the more abundant under certain circumstances. I wonder if these places are deprived of birds, could Lowii still survive or die without poo??.
To talk *about 'preferred food', as if N. lowii can make some sort of conscious decision about what it does or doesn't like to eat is anthropomorphism at its worst. CPs have evolved strategies which enable them to advantageously compete for niche space by supplementing their nutrient intake by the means capturing prey. They don't choose their food or express any preferences, but they can evolve means (trap shape, colour, attractants etc) which tend to attract a particular type of prey over others.
The fact is that large quantities of bird poo has been found in the pitchers of this species and it seems reasonable to me that the plants may have evolved the strategy of attracting birds for this purpose. Until someone does the laborious long-term field studies, in a remote and hostile environment (at great cost too! ), it remains a hypothesis, quite a good one too, in my opinion. If you don't like it, get a botany degree and some post-graduate experience in plant ecology, find some funding and trek off to Borneo for a few months hard work. Then when you have disproved the hypothesis, publish it and convince others of your findings. There is nothing wrong with the hypothesis, its just a reasonable idea, waiting to be investigated.
They say that money talks, but all it ever says to me is goodbye.
Let's relate to the Venus flytrap, you think it was specifically evolved to catch just flys? Nope whatever it can get it's green little nippers on it takes.
Evaluation on a pitcher plant whatever falls in it takes advantage of. You must also remember if the plants in cultivation were/are evolving to catch bird feces then they would begin dieing off in thousands of collections world wide and I know quite few people who have mature lowii and they have no contact with feathered friends whatsoever, just bugs and maybe mild fertilzer.
Exactly Nep Gracilis. I am going with you all the way. By the way, Vic I am not a botanist, but a molecular biologist. My experience as a scientist tells me that we'll never find an absolute answer, just relative ones, with or without long term studies. Living things are not on this earth endowed with a single function but with more than one. They are so adaptable, in most cases, that they change functions when their environment changes. The most intriguing aspect of nepenthes pitcher shape is the fact that there are so many varieties and no one knows why. Their plasticity to change shape when hybridized is amazing. So I do believe that Lowii's pitcher shape and size provides this plant with an advantage of catching bird's poo, but it does not mean that it was specifically evolved to catch them. That as i mentioned before, remains to be proven. So please let's be careful with the terminology used here.
Vic, maybe you should get a degree in botany and clarify these things for us? [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rolleyes.gif[/img]
|So I do believe that Lowii's pitcher shape and size provides this plant with an advantage of catching bird's poo, but it does not mean that it was specifically evolved to catch them.[/QUOTE]|
In essence your statement is correct. Until further study has been done no one should believe this is "gospel" however it can be reasonably proven one way or the other.
You will have to agree that bird poo is available everywhere, in every jungle.
Examinations of the contents of pitchers of all other Nepenthes has shown that they do not contain bird poo. I have seen several hundred for myself personally and other people have done studies on particular species so this is a fact, not an assumption by me. This suggests that, even by accident, bird poo is not a usual source of nutrients for Nepenthes.
IF someone goes out into the jungle and finds that a substantial percentage of lowii pitchers do contain bird poo then it is a reasonable assumption that the plant has evolved to take advantage of bird poo as a source of nutrients. This would be reinforced even further if it turns out that there are very few insects in those same pitchers.
If it is show that lowii has evolved to catch bird poo I doubt anyone would believe that this means lowii is unable to take advantage of any other prey that enters the pitchers. Only that lowii has evolved to become better than other Nepenthes at catching bird poo.
Just another example; the aristolochioides site is infested with these tiny flying gnat things that irritate the heck out of you. They appear to be the major source of prey on the ridge. Have a look at aristolochioides, how the pitcher has evolved, and tell me how successful it would be at catching flying gnats if it were shaped like ampullaria and hidden away in the undergrowth.
At this point in time no one is saying the bird poo theory is the truth but it is looking very probable and through field study of large populations it can be statistically proven either way.
|'Vic, maybe you should get a degree in botany and clarify these things for us?'[/QUOTE]|
I already have a degree in ecology, and two post graduate degrees and 15 years research experience with animal-plant interactions, much of it spent researching as an entomologist in a plant ecology department, I think its a bit late in life for me to take another degree! My wife's PhD is in botany, so maybe I can bring her along too. Just send a very large cheque made payable to V. Brown, and I'll book the flights and start planning! *[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]
Seriously, if Charles Clarke, who is acknowledged as someone with great expertise and experience of these plants in nature, considers the hypothesis to be plausible, I'm happy with it and willing to wait for the right scientists to do the relevant research. I wasn't trying to cause offence, just trying point out what would be involved, in general terms, in order to investigate this.
They say that money talks, but all it ever says to me is goodbye.
Why would the lowii die off in thousands of collections worldwide, if they are/were evolving to catch bird feces? You mention that people feed their lowiis bugs and fertilizer. If so, they do not need to catch anything.
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