The carnivorous plant Nepenthes bicalcarata (“fanged pitcher plant”) has a unique relationship with a species of ant—Camponotus schmitzi (“diving ant”). The diving ants are not digested by the pitcher plants, but instead live on the plants and consume nectar. Diving ants also dive into the digestive juices in the pitcher, swim to the bottom, and capture and consume trapped insects, leaving uneaten body parts and ant feces behind. What nutritional impact do the ants have on fanged pitcher plants? Do the pitcher plants derive any nutritional benefit from this relationship?
Nitrogen is a key nutrient often obtained by carnivorous plants from the insects they digest. Are the results presented here what would be expected if nitrogen is a limiting nutrient? Explain.
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