Science Grab Bag


How many different species of carnivorous plants can be found in the Athabasca River Basin?

a) 0
b) 5
c) 9
d) 15

Answer: b) Five. A species of Pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) can be found in northeastern Alberta around Lake Athabasca, and lures prey via nectar secretions and bright colorations. Although secreted enzymes and bacteria are present and aid in digestion, they play no role in insect mortality, which ultimately occurs by simple drowning. Two species of Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia and Drosera anglica) can be found throughout Alberta, and lure small insects again by their bright colors and nectar secretions. Their petals (round in D. rotundifolia and elongate in D. anglica) contain additional stalks with sticky secretions on the ends that immobilize insects long enough for the petal to enclose its prey. Two species of Butterworts (Pinguicula vulgaris and Pinguicula villosa) are also present in the Basin, but in two very different habitats. P. vulgaris is only present in a small section of the Rocky Mountain near the British Columbia border, and tends to live on steep mossy rocks, while P.villosa can be found in the northern quarter of Alberta and extending far north into the Arctic. Both species hold their prey with sticky secretions and digest via enzymes.

Science Outreach Athabasca - September 26, 2012

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