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Press Release 13-073

Earth Day: Big Ecosystem Changes Viewed Through the Lens of Tiny Carnivorous Plants

Researchers use pitcher plants to identify signs of trouble dead ahead

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A bunch of northern pitcher plants

In scientists' eyes, each leaf of the northern pitcher plant is a small ecosystem.

Credit: Aaron Ellison


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The northern pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea

The northern pitcher plant is known to biologists as Sarracenia purpurea for its purple color.

Credit: Aaron Ellison


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Image of a lake surrounded by trees

Water-filled pools in pitcher plants have ecological dynamics similar to ponds and lakes.

Credit: Aaron Ellison


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A northern pitcher plant with oxygen sensors inside a lab

Oxygen sensors inside a northern pitcher plant reveal when a tipping point is reached.

Credit: John Hirsch


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Ecologist Jennie Sirota feeds a wasp to a pitcher plant.

As part of experiments, ecologist Jennie Sirota feeds a wasp to a pitcher plant.

Credit: Ben Baiser


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Jennie Sirota conducting research within the confines of a dark bog.

Jennie Sirota conducts research deep within the confines of a dark bog.

Credit: Ben Baiser


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