Colonisation of pitcher plant leaves at several spatial scales


*M. Kurtis Trzcinski, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 3J1. E-mail:


Abstract.  1. The effect of meso-scale (zone within bog and local plant density) and fine-scale (leaf length and resource availability) factors on the colonisation of pitcher plant leaves by arthropods was examined in an eastern Canadian bog.

2. In spring, the abundances of three arthropods, the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii, the midge Metriocnemus knabi, and the mite Sarraceniopus gibsoni, were determined for plots with low, moderate, and high densities of pitcher plants. All overwintering inhabitants were then removed from the plots. Newly opening leaves were colonised from outside the plots, and arthropod abundances were assessed again in autumn.

3. Pitcher plant fauna varied in their response to the meso-scale factors. In autumn (soon after colonisation), midges were more abundant in areas with high densities of pitcher plants. The relationship between mosquito abundance and plant density, and the variation in abundance among zones within the bog in the spring, were probably due to overwintering mortality.

4. All taxa responded to the fine-scale factors, leaf length, and capture rate, in the autumn, but the strength of the responses frequently depended on a meso-scale factor (plant density), in which responses were usually strongest where plants were sparse. Thus, the interaction between meso- and fine-scale processes needs to be considered when interpreting patterns of species abundance within arthropod assemblages in pitcher plant leaves.