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Picture of the Day

An ocean apart, carnivorous pitcher plants create similar communities

In new research, National Science Foundation-funded scientists reveal that the communities created inside pitcher plants converge just as the shape and function of the plants themselves do. Despite being separated by continents and oceans, pitchers tend to house living communities more similar to one another than they are to their surrounding environments. Asian pitchers transplanted to Massachusetts bogs can even mimic the natives so well that the pitcher plant mosquito -- a specialized insect that evolved to complete its life cycle exclusively in North American pitchers -- lays eggs in the impostors. The researchers say this work provides a much richer picture of how convergence can extend well beyond relatively simple functional roles, like plant carnivory, to include a network of interactions among different species that evolve under related conditions.

Visit Website | Image credit: Anne Pringle/University of Wisconsin-Madison