Showcase 2021 Winner: Samantha Stephens

Nature’s Pitfall: Carnivorous Northern Pitcher Plant with Captured Juvenile Spotted Salamanders, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Macro/Micro/All Other, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Macro/Micro/All Other ©  Samantha Stephens
Nature’s Pitfall: Carnivorous Northern Pitcher Plant with Captured Juvenile Spotted Salamanders, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Macro/Micro/All Other, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Macro/Micro/All Other © Samantha Stephens

Artist’s statement

Northern pitcher plants grow on bog mats where there is no nutrient-rich soil to feed them. As a result, they have evolved to be carnivorous, obtaining nutrients instead through a diet of insects. But researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station recently discovered that a population of these plants are also regularly capturing a vertebrate prey: juvenile spotted salamanders. Salamanders have long been recognized as important nutrient cyclers that move between aquatic and forest ecosystems, and this discovery reveals that they might be a large source of nutrients for these plants.  I was working at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station in 2019 as a photojournalist-in-residence when I was able to make this image that visualizes this scientific discovery.

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