The contribution of insect prey to the total nitrogen content of sundews (Drosera spp.) determined in situ by stable isotope analysis

Authors

  • Jonathan Millett,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK;
    2. Present address: Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK;
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  • Roger I. Jones,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK;
    2. Present address: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, PL35, 40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland
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  • Susan Waldron

    1. Life Sciences Community Stable Isotope Facility, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride G75 0QF, UK;
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Author for correspondence: Jonathan Millett Tel: +44 (0)1224 318611 Fax: +44 (0)1224 311556 Email: j.millett@macaulay.ac.uk

Summary

  • • The contribution of insect prey to total N in the carnivorous plants, Drosera rotundifolia and D. intermedia, was quantified in situ and without any experimental manipulation using natural abundance stable isotope analysis.
  • • Samples of D. rotundifolia and D. intermedia, insects and noncarnivorous reference plants were collected from three contrasting locations across Britain. The proportion of Drosera nitrogen obtained from insect prey was calculated by a mixing model using δ15N values from the different plant groups.
  • • The mean proportion of Drosera N derived from prey was 50%. There were significant differences in this proportion between sites, and significant differences within sites. There were significant differences between plant tissues and a significant negative relationship between the proportion of N derived from prey and the C : N ratio of Drosera tissues.
  • • There was little evidence of differences in prey capture/utilisation in response to N availability, possibly due to a limited range in available N between the sites. However, evidence of a positive benefit of prey capture was apparent through the decrease in C : N ratio with increasing prey N concentrations in the plants.

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