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Abstract Detail

Tropical Biology

Zona, Scott [1], Christenhusz, Maaten [2].

Litter-trapping plants: filter-feeders of the plant kingdom.

Litter-trapping plants have specialized growth habits and morphologies that enable them to capture falling leaf litter and other debris, which the plants use for nutrition after the litter has decayed. Litter-trappers, both epiphytic and terrestrial, are found throughout the tropics, with only a few extra-tropical species. Litter is trapped via rosettes of leaves, specially modified leaves, and/or upward-growing roots (“root baskets”). This trapped litter mass is also food and housing for a large variety of commensal organisms (especially, mites, springtails, ants, and termites) and represents a poorly explored habitat for small invertebrates. Some taxa impound water (phytotelmata), as well as leaf litter, in overlapping leaves or leaf bases. We have identified 575 species of litter-trappers (exclusive of Bromeliaceae), in 35 plant families, including 10 monocot and 3 fern families, and we expect more species to be identified as the phenomenon becomes more widely studied. Aspleniaceae, Araceae, Arecaceae, Bromeliaceae, Lecythidaceae, Orchidaceae, Polypodiaceae, Primulaceae, and Rubiaceae are families most numerous in litter-trapping species. Some members of the mostly carnivorous Nepenthaceae also reverted to trapping of litter rather than insects.

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1 - Florida International University, Biological Sciences, 11200 SW 8 St., Miami, Florida, 33199, United States
2 - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3DS, UK


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 24, Tropical Biology
Location: 103/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: 24002
Abstract ID:284
Candidate for Awards:None

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