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Harvard Forest Data Archive


Allochthonous Nutrients in the Sarracenia Microecosystem at Harvard Forest 2005-2007

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  • Lead: Aaron Ellison, Nicholas Gotelli
  • Investigators: Jessica Butler
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: 2005
  • End date: 2007
  • Status: complete
  • Location: Harvard Forest Greenhouse
  • Latitude: +42.53 degrees
  • Longitude: -72.19 degrees
  • Elevation: 330 meter
  • Datum: WGS84
  • Taxa: Sarracenia purpurea (northern pitcher plant), Sarracenia flava (yellow pitcher plant), Sarracenia alata (pale pitcher plant)
  • Release date: 2023
  • Language: English
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.98.18
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: short-term measurement
  • Research topic: physiological ecology, population dynamics and species interactions
  • LTER core area: mineral cycling
  • Keywords: carnivorous plants, detritus, food webs, nitrogen cycling, nitrogen-15
  • Abstract:

    Linkages between detritus-based ("brown") food webs and producer-based ("green") food webs are critical components of ecosystem functionality, but these linkages are difficult to study because soil is opaque and brown food webs are poorly characterized. We used the well-defined detritus-based food web that forms in water-filled leaves of the pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea to directly study how food web structure affects nitrogen (N) transformation and N-uptake by the plant itself. We used isotopically-enriched prey (detritus) and soluble inorganic N to test three predictions of the hypotheses that N uptake efficiency (UE) by S. purpurea is enhanced by the presence of a complete food web in its pitchers: (1) presence of top trophic levels increases UE of prey-derived, but not inorganic, N; (2) UE is contingent on availability of different forms of N; and (3) congeneric Sarracenia species that do not host food webs differ from S. purpurea in UE of prey-derived N. Surprisingly, none of these predictions were borne out in a 3-month greenhouse experiment. We conclude that the higher trophic-level members of this brown food web actively process detritus, but it is the activity of the microbial component of this web that ultimately influences N-availability in S. purpurea.

  • Methods:

  • Organization: Harvard Forest. 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA. Phone (978) 724-3302. Fax (978) 724-3595.

  • Project: The Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program examines ecological dynamics in the New England region resulting from natural disturbances, environmental change, and human impacts. (ROR).

  • Funding: National Science Foundation LTER grants: DEB-8811764, DEB-9411975, DEB-0080592, DEB-0620443, DEB-1237491, DEB-1832210.

  • Use: This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • License: Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal (CC0-1.0)

  • Citation: Ellison A, Gotelli N. 2023. Allochthonous Nutrients in the Sarracenia Microecosystem at Harvard Forest 2005-2007. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF098 (v.18). Environmental Data Initiative:

Detailed Metadata

hf098-01: food web

  1. treat: treatment applied to each plant
    • 15IN: 15N added as NH4NO3
    • 15prey: 15N added as Drosophila prey
    • 15prey with IN: 15N added as Drosophila prey with natural abundance NH4NO3
    • prey with 15IN: natural abundance Drosophila prey with 15N-NH4NO3
  2. species: species of plant
    • SP: Sarracenia purpurea without food webs
    • SPfw: S. purpurea with food webs
    • SA: S. alata
    • SF: S. flava
  3. pit.15n.fed: amount (mg of N) of 15N-NH4NO3 tracer fed to pitchers during three months (unit: milligram / missing value: NA)
  4. pit.15nprey.fed: amount of 15N-Drosophila (mg of N) fed to pitchers during three months (unit: milligram / missing value: NA)
  5. plant.n: mg of nitrogen (N) within entire plant (unit: milligram / missing value: NA)
  6. plant.15n: mg of 15N tracer within entire plant (unit: milligram / missing value: NA)
  7. pit.n: concentration (%) of N within living pitchers (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  8. pit.15n: mg of 15N tracer within all pitchers produced during the three months (unit: milligram / missing value: NA)
  9. rt.rh.15m: mg of 15N tracer within roots and rhizomes (unit: milligram / missing value: NA)
  10. at.15n.ff: atom% 15N of Fletcherimyia fletcheri larvae (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)