Effects of future increases in atmospheric ammonium deposition on prey capture traits of the purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea
Robles, Danna K.
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Explicitly under nitrogen stress, climate change is predicted to negatively impact food security by decreasing crop (corn, wheat, rice, and soy) yields by at least 30% in the U.S. Midwest by 2050. In response, agricultural fields will receive an increase of ammonium fertilizer in an attempt to keep food security stable. Ammonium will volatize into the atmosphere and affect regions downwind via dry or wet deposition. Primarily due to an increase in ammonium-based fertilization, ammonium deposition in northern Michigan is predicted to increase by at least 40% by the year 2050. Northern Michigan has ecosystems naturally characterized by low nitrogen availability such as bogs. In response, some plants have adapted ways to obtain nitrogen such as prey capture. Carnivorous pitcher plants have specialized prey capture traits such as hair, red coloration, and nectar production. This project attempts to understand how these prey capture traits will be affected with an increase in ammonium deposition. Sarracenia purpurea pitchers received an ammonium treatment that simulated a 40% increase of ammonium deposition for four weeks at the Mud Lake bog in Pellston, MI. Hair density, the percent of red color coverage, and nectar sugar were then analyzed. There was no response seen in hair density nor redness, however, nectar sugar decreased. This may result in changing the type of insects that are attracted to the pitchers furthering causing implications potentially affecting the pitcher plant itself and symbiont organisms living inside the pitcher.