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The first of fourteen articles written by my students in my Communicating Science via Photography workshop for graduate students at Ohio State University.

Niche partitioning in plants of the eastern U.S.A.

By James Palus

20160319_1023308-1224112_-_Palus_James_-_Apr_20,_2016_502_PM_-_1_Palus_Drosera_capillaris_in_a_depression_of_a_longleaf_pine_forest._©Andi_Wolfe_2016_all_rights_reserved

A single leaf of the pink sundew, displaying its glandular hairs.

An insect flying through the Florida flatwoods would be wise to avoid the glandular hairs of the pink sundew (Drosera capillaris). Largely found in nutrient-poor bogs formed in minor depressions in these longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests, sundews acquire their primary source of nitrogen and phosphorus through insectivory. The glandular hairs covering the leaves of sundew are tipped with nectar-like secretions that attract insects. However, these secretions are also composed of adhesive compounds that trap the insect, followed by a slow process of enzymes digesting the insect to extract nutrients for the plant to absorb. Sundews provide just one remarkable example of plants capable of adapting to peculiar niches that others are incapable of occupying.

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