Sarraceniaceae as a model clade
ID: 613 / 458
Proposed Symposium Title: Sarraceniaceae as a model clade
David W. Armitage1
Affiliations: 1 Integrative Community Ecology Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Onna, Okinawa, JAPAN
Sarraceniaceae is the Drosophila of community ecology. The fluid-filled leaves of these carnivorous plants have, over the course of centuries, captivated professional and amateur botanists alike, and — owing to their unique phytotelmic habit — have been used by ecologists, entomologists, and microbiologists as miniature models for lakes, island chains, and animal digestive systems. The balance between tractability and realism in Sarraceniaceae microcosm studies has produced many key insights into the functioning and dynamics of communities and ecosystems that would otherwise be impossible in larger systems. Sarraceniaceae are similarly important from botanical and evolutionary perspectives. Captivating as these plants are, however, many aspects of their evolution and biology remain shrouded in mystery. While their phylogenetic placement is becoming clear, far less is known about their landscape genetic structuring, trait-environment relationships, and mechanisms of prey attraction, capture, digestion, and dispersal. Furthermore, major questions remain concernning the evolutionary history of the group, as well as mechanisms contributing to their local-scale diversification in the Southeastern United States and Guiana Highlands. In this talk, I will discuss my research history with Sarraceniace and Darlingtonia californica, in particular. I will show how an integration of ecological, genetic, and biomechanical studies focusing almost entirely on this single clade has, perhaps paradoxically, helped me become a more interdisciplinary scientist and more effective advisor and collaborator. I will also introduce a brief history of the use of the Sarraceniaceae model system in community ecology — highlighting the groundwork of both established and early career researchers — and conclude by outlining areas which would further help enshrine the family as a model system that can effectively integrate many fields of science.