|Title||The effect of environmental uncertainty on morphological design and fluid balance in Sarracenia purpurea L|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1981|
To explore principles of organismic design in fluctuating environments, morphological design of the leaf of the pitcher-plant, Sarracenia purpurea, was studied for a population in northern Michigan. The design criterion focused upon the leaf shape and minimum size which effectively avoids leaf desiccation (complete loss of fluid from the leaf cavity) in the face of fluctuating rainfall and meteorological conditions. Bowl- and pitcher-shaped leaves were considered. Simulations show that the pitcher geometry experiences less frequent desiccation than bowls of the same size. Desiccation frequency is inversely related to leaf size; the size distribution of pitcher leaves in the field shows that the majority of pitchers desiccate only 1-3 times per season on average, while smaller pitchers may average up to 8 times per season. A linear filter model of an organism in a fluctuating environment is presented, in which the organism selectively filters the temporal patterns of environmental input. General measures of rainfall predictability based upon information theory and spectral analysis are consistent with the model of a pitcher leaf as a low-pass (frequency) filter which avoids desiccation by eliminating high-frequency rainfall variability.