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Using Carnivorous Plants in Science Projects
Project Ideas

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Cape Sundew Michigan Bog Venus Flytrap
Cape Sundew--Maryland Fen--Venus Flytrap

Here is a list of possible science projects involving carnivorous plants. Many of these come from questions my students have asked about these fascinating plants. Look through the list and use it as a spring board to come up with your own questions to investigate.

  1. Does VFT triggering response vary from plant to plant?
  2. Does VFT triggering response vary from leaf to leaf?
  3. Does VFT triggering response vary with age of plant?
  4. Does VFT triggering response vary with the season of the year?
  5. How is VFT closing time related to temperature?
  6. How is VFT closing time related to age?
  7. How is VFT closing time related to humidity?
  8. How is VFT closing time related to soil?
  9. What soil limits (pH, moisture, composition) can CPs tolerate?
  10. Is leaf propagation with sundews better with older or younger leaves?
  11. Is leaf propagation with sundews better with one species or another?
  12. Which CP species (spp.) are most affected by environmental stress?
  13. Why do Sarracenia hybridize so readily?
  14. Verify digestion in pitcher plants.
  15. Which species of CPs are most efficient at trapping insects?
  16. Is there a relationship between trapping efficiency and soil nutrient deficiency?
  17. What leaf portions are essential for trapping?
  18. Are flies attracted by color, smell, shape, etc?
  19. Are CP pollinators species-specific?
  20. What is the most common food of a CP?
  21. Is there a relationship between insect spp. trapped and insect spp. density in a bog?
  22. Do VFTs prefer flies, ants or bees?
  23. How many times can a VFT leaf be triggered before it dies?
  24. Can CPs be grown hydroponically?
  25. Do specific species of CPs trap or lure certain species of prey?
  26. What symbiotic relationships do CPs have with other organisms?
  27. What factors affect geographic distribution of CPs within a bog?
  28. Can vegetative apomixis be forced?
  29. Do any CP flowers attract pollinators with ultraviolet color patterns?
  30. Are CP pollinators common or rare prey for CPs?
  31. How does digestive efficiency compare among various CPs?
  32. Can CP dormancy be eliminated through environmental or chemical controls?
  33. Should fertilizers really be avoided when culturing CPs?
  34. Do wild CPs reproduce more commonly by sexual or asexual methods?
  35. What significance does the venation pattern in Purple Pitcher Plants play?
  36. What is the survival advantage of winter leaves (phyllodia) of pitcher plants?
  37. Does red pigmentation in the VFT trap affect trapping efficiency or frequency of insect visitation?
  38. Is the general public aware of CPs or CP conservation efforts?
  39. Can entrapment be stimulated by non-prey techniques: chemical, magnetic, electrical, photic, etc?
  40. What is the best fungicide to use when germinating or growing CPs?
  41. How extensive is local parasitism and predation on CPs in your area?
  42. What specific animal associations can be found with CPs in your area?
  43. How many times must trigger hairs be touched to trip the trap?
  44. What is the best time to wait before the second tripping of trigger hair to get the fastest closing of the trap?
  45. How many times can a VFT close before the trap dies?
  46. Will a VFT digest cheese, meat or other protein sources?
  47. Are VFT leaves bigger after feeding?
  48. In a CP area compare species density in open sunny areas vs. shaded areas.
  49. Are Charles Darwin's hypotheses on plant carnivory correct?
  50. What will trigger the sundew's tentacles and leaves to curl over?
  51. What strength of a solution can the sundew's tentacles detect?
  52. What is the smallest mass the sundew's tentacles can detect?
  53. How fast does a sundew tentacle or leaf respond?
  54. If one sundew tentacle is stimulated, will others on the leaf also respond?
  55. How is the growth of a CP affected by a "meal?"
  56. Is growth of a CP after feeding different among different species of CPs?
  57. Which plants grow in association with CPs?
  58. What type of insects are attracted by CPs?
  59. What is the best soil content in which to grow CPs?
  60. What environmental conditions affect CPs; light, temperature, altitude, drainage, frequency of watering, association with other plants?
  61. Can germination time be affected by environmental factors?
  62. What factors affect the timing for appearance of flowers, pollination, fertilization?
  63. Is there a relationship between trap size and prey type or size?
  64. Is there a relationship between size and/or type of entrapment and location in the bog?
  65. What factors affect the rate of new trap formation over time?
  66. Is the phototropic response of a CP affected by the capture of prey?
  67. How is the efficiency of capture related to size of opening, size of leaf, presence of specific parts, age of trap?
  68. Is the capture rate of a CP affected by prey size, trap size, age, trap opening size, presence of certain trap parts i.e leaf windows, hood, leaf appendages?
  69. Is trap efficiency constant among different CPs in the same habitat?
  70. Is trap efficiency constant among the same CPs in different habitats?

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