Scientists have found salamander-eating plants in a remote part of Canada.
It is believed to be the first such case recorded in the North American region
Pitcher plants growing in the wetlands of Canada have long been known to eat living creatures such as insects and spiders, which fall into their bell-shaped leaves, drown, and slowly decompose in the rainwater collected there.
It was once thought that only tropical pitchers ate vertebrates. But, in a recent paper published in the Ecology journal, Ontario biologists at the University of Guelph have described finding Sarracenia pitcher plants in Algonquin Provincial Park that consume vertebrates, specifically salamanders.
Back in 2017, the researchers observed 144 pitcher plants and found eight baby salamanders trapped inside. Six of them were alive and two were dead. Later, in August and September of 2018, the same team observed 58 plants and found that 20% of them had baby salamanders stuck inside. Some even contained more than one salamander.
And while some salamanders survived the pitcher bells for 19 days, others died only within three.
The researchers came to the conclusion that pitcher plants capture salamanders on a regular basis because they are likely a “substantial nutrient source for pitcher plants.”
In a statement released by the team at the University of Guelph, they jokingly call the studied wetland “the little bog of horrors.”
Associate professor of the University’s Department of Integrative Biology, Alex Smith, explained that the amphibians were most likely lured to enter the plants by insects or while fleeing predators. In addition, the plants could take advantage of baby salamanders who have just made the transformation from larvae and fail to make it on to land.
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